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1HAVE endeavoured in tlie following pages to 
give as f till an account of I/eeds in its progress 
from a small pre-Conquest settlement to its 
present position as one of the greater cities of 
England, as can be presented within the limited 
space placed at my disposal. The material for such 
an account is to be found, mainly, in the autho- 
rities referred to on another page. Those readers 
who wish to know more details will find them in 
the massive folios of Thoresby and Whitaker, in the 
various publications of the Thoresby Society, and 
in such works as those of the late Mr. D. H. 
Atkinson. My particular thanks are due to Mr. 
A, C. Price, whose book, "I,eeds and its Neighbour- 
hood: An Illustration of English History" (in 
which he is kind enough to make many references 
to my own topographical work relating to York- 
shire), contains a mass of valuable information, and 
to Mr. W. T. I/ancaster, F.S.A., for placing in my 
hands various works from the library of the York- 
shire Archaeological Society. 



July, 1918. 


I. THE BEGINNINGS ... ... ... ... 9 

II. KlRKSTALL ... ... ... ... .,. 19 

III. THE MEDIEVAL TOWN ... ... ... ... 29 

IV. 1530-1661 ... ... ... ... ... 39 

V. Two GREAT TOWNSMEN ... ... ... ... 4$ 

VI. THE STAPLE TRADE ... ... ... ... 58 


VIII. THE NEW FORCES ... ... ... ... 77 

IX. REFORM... ... ... ... ... ... 87 



XII. THE GREAT MEN ... ... ... ... 117 

INDEX ... ... ... ... ... ... 126 




KIRKSTALL ABBEY ... ... ... ... ... 24 

ST. JOHN'S CHURCH ... ... ... ... ... 44. 



THE MOOT HALL ... ... ... ... ... 62 

BOAR LANE ... ... ... ... ... ... 70 



QUEBEC BUILDINGS ... ... ... ... ... 90 

DR. W. F. HOOK ... ... ... ... ... too 

LEEDS UNIVERSITY ... ... ... ... ... 112 

JOSEPH PRIESTLEY ... ... ... ... ... 122 


PLAN OF LEEDS IN 1560 ... ... ... ") 

% Fr&nt 

PLAN OF LEEDS IN 1806... ... ... ... J 

PLAN OF LEEDS IN 1917 ... ... ... Itatk 


THORESBY, R., Ducatus Leodiensis, 1715. 

THORESBY, R., Vicaria Leodiensis, 1724. 

ATKINSON, D. H., Ralph Thoresby : his Town and Times, 1887. 

ATKINSON, D. H., Old Leeds, 1868. 

WHITAKKR, T. D., Loidis and Elmete, 1816. 

TAYLOR, R. V., Biographia Leodiensis, 1865-67. 

LANCASTER, W. T., and BATLDON, W. P., Coucher Book of Kirkstall 

Abbey (Thoresby Soc., v. 8), 1904. 

MOORE, R. W., History of the Parish Church of Leeds, 1877. 
LUMB, G. D., Testamenta Leodiensia (Thoresby Soc. v. 19), 1913. 
LUMB, G. D., and S. MARGERISON, Parish Church Registers, 1571- 

1757 (Thoresby Soc., 6 vols.), 1891-94. 
WILSON, E., Grammar School Admission Books, 1820-1900 (Thoresby 

Soc., v. 14), 1906. 

PRICE, A. C., Leeds and its Neighbourhood, 1909. 
STEPHENS, W. R. W., Life and Letters of Walter Farquhar Hook, 

D.D., 1879. 
MORRIS, J. E., The West Riding of Yorkshire, 1911. 



WHEN, in the summer of the year 625, St. 
Paulinus brought ^Ethelburh, sister of 
Eadbald, King of Kent, northward to York, to 
be married to Eadwine, King of Northumbria, 
the bride must needs have been struck, if not 
affrighted, at the wildness of the land through 
which she and her guardian passed in the last 
stages of their journey. For they would come 
into what is now Yorkshire by the old Roman 
way which led from Doncaster to Castleford, and 
thence by Tadcaster to York, and they would see 
small evidence of human life beyond the cots of 
some obscure settlement, or the hovels of the 
swineherd and the woodmen, set deep in the forest 
glades. On their right would lie the marsh and 
waste which then spread over much of the county 
between the lower stretches of the Aire and the 
levels around York ; on their left, the edges of 
the deep woods which covered most of the great 
tract of land which we now know as the West 
Riding. Upon the dark recesses in those woods 
JJthelburh doubtless looked with awe as she and 
St. Paulinus made their way to York : from York 
the King who awaited her coming looked out on 
them, too, but with the feelings of a conqueror. 



For tliat vast tract had until liis time been an 
independent kingdom, and he had recently gone 
out from York to subdue it, and had successful!}' 
wrought his work, and about the time that St. 
Paulinus brought ^Ethelburh to him, he was able 
to boast that by this conquest his Northumbrian 
sovereignty had been extended from the eastern 
to the western sea. And it may have been that 
the great missionary, as he conducted -S/thelburh 
forward in the last stages of their journey, pointed 
to the dark woods which lay westward, and told 
her of the old kingdom of Elmet, of which they 
formed the boundary, and of its wild fastnesses 
and pagan folk and he may have told her also 
that in the midst of his newly acquired territory 
Eadwine had set up a royal lodge, or fort, or camp 
at a place then called Loidis. In that name, 
evidently of Keltic origin, we have the source of 
the modern name Leeds. 

Ralph Thoresby, the topographer, perhaps the 
most notable of the many eminent men whom 
Leeds has produced, considered that his native 
town was one of the twenty-eight cities of ancient 
Britain which are specified by Nennius, the more 
or less fabulous chronicler, who is supposed to 
have been Abbot of Bangor early in the seventh 
century, and that its original name was Caer Loid 
Coit or Caer Loyd yn y Leod the camp or fortress 
in the wood. But we may put that down as 
fanciful conjecture, unsupported by any historical 
evidence ; we have no dependable mention of any 
place that we may associate with Leeds before 
Bede (c. 673-735) who, in the fourteenth chapter 
of his "Ecclesiastical History/' writes that the 
altar of a certain church, erected under Eadwine, 


at a place wliicli Bede calls Campoduuum, and 
subsequently destroyed by the Pagans after Ead- 
wine's fall, was re-erected, and was in existence 
in his day at the cell of Thrydulf, Abbot, "in 
regione quae vocatur I^oidis/' As to the exact 
location of Campodunum, much speculation has 
existed : the antiquary, Gale, noting that in 
Alfred's paraphrase of Bede, Campodunum is 
rendered Donafelda, considered it to have signified 
Tanfield, near Ripon; other writers have fixed 
it as being on or near the site of the present Don- 
caster ; again, there may have been confusion 
between the names Campodunum and Cambo- 
dunum, a station on the Second Roman Iter, now 
definitely identified with Slack, near Hudders- 
field. When Bede wrote of the region or wood 
of lyoidis, he probably referred generally to the 
forest that overspread the whole of the ancient 
kingdom of Elmet, which extended from the 
borders of the present Derbyshire on the south 
to the valley of the Nidd on the north, and 
from the Pennine Range on the west to a line 
drawn from Aldborough to Doncaster on the east. 
Green, in his " Making of England," inclines to 
the opinion that Elmet was also known by the 
name of lyoidis. In Elmet, or I/oidis, Eadwine, 
after his expulsion of Cerdic, last king of Elmet, 
set up some sort of a royal dwelling whether 
it was somewhere on the site of modern Leeds, 
or at the village of Barwick-in-Elmet, a few miles 
away, we do not know. But at Barwick-in-Elmet 
there are certain ancient remains locally known 
as Hall Tower and Wendel Hill which are with- 
out doubt those of the earthworks of an old 
British camp. 


At Aldborough, close to the banks of the Aire, 
tlie Iscur of the old Brigantine folk, the Isurium 
of the Roman occupation, those Kelts who in- 
habited this part of Yorkshire in the pre-Roman 
days, had their principal stronghold, from whence 
they sallied forth hunting and ravaging over the 
neighbouring valleys. But of their existence in 
or about Leeds there are few evidences. They 
gave names to the river Aire and to the long hill 
in lower Wharfedale so well known as Otley Chevin 
(0ne>=violent ; c/w=ridge) ; there are traces of 
them and possibly of some still earlier peoples 
on the moors between Wharfedale and Airedale : 
the earthworks at Barwick-in-Elmet probably origi- 
nated with them, to be enlarged and improved 
at later periods. But there are no remains of 
the rude tracks which they trod between settle- 
ment and settlement, nor has much been found 
in this district of arms or pottery of their manu- 
facture. There are scarcely more evidences or 
remains of the Roman occupation. One great 
Roman road, from south to north, lay on the 
eastern boundaries of Elmet ; another, from 
Tadcaster, by Slack, led to Manchester, and 
passed nearer Leeds. But there are traces of 
Roman vicinal ways in the immediate neighbour- 
hood of Leeds at Alwoodley, and at Adel, and 
between Bramhope and the approaches to upper 
Wharfedale. On the site of towns in the vicinity, 
such as Tadcaster (Cakaria), Castleford (Legio- 
Hum), and Ilkley (Olicana) the Romans established 
some of their most important stations in the North. 
At Adel, close- to Leeds, famous for its almost 
unique church, many Roman remains have been 
found ; between Adel and Eccup are the distinct 


traces of a camp probably made by the Romans 
on the foundations of an ancient British earth- 
work. Perhaps the most ancient thing ever laid 
bare in Leeds was the paved ford in the river 
Aire, near the old bridge at the foot of Briggate 
of distinct Roman remains the local archaeolo- 
gists have discovered little, though there were 
doubtless Roman ironworks at Farnley, a few 
miles from the centre of the present city, Nor 
is there much to tell from material memorials 
* of the days which followed the coming of the 
Saxon and the Dane. If we wish to go back to 
the first beginnings of the English in this part of 
the land, we shall find our best evidences of 
antiquity in the old Shire Oak at Headingley, 
and in the presence of many places in the out- 
skirts of Leeds which have the termination of 
their names in ley Bramley, Armley, Wortley, 
Farsley deriving it from the Anglo-Saxon leak 
an open place in the wood. 

There is no dependable historical record of 
Leeds until we reach the time of the Domesday 
Survey of 1085. Therein, certain places which 
are now part of Leeds itself, and have, indeed, 
been so for many a long year, are described as 
being separate from the little town which doubt- 
less stood, a mere collection of rude cots, between 
the present Kirkgate and the river. Hunslet, now 
in the centre of workaday Leeds, is so described ; 
so is Headingley : Eirkstall, Holbeck, Burley 
were all far out of the town. Thanks to the sur- 
veyors' custom of setting down what a place had 
been in the days of Edward the Confessor we 
know what Leeds was before the Norman Conquest 
as well as what it was when Domesday Book was 

i 4 LEEDS 

compiled. About 1068 Leeds was evidently a 
purely agricultural domain, of about one thousand 
acres in extent ; it was divided into seven manors, 
held by as many thanes ; they possessed six 
ploughs ; there was a priest, and a church, and 
a mill : its taxable value was six pounds. When 
the Domesday records were made, it had slightly 
increased in value ; the seven thanes had been 
replaced by twenty-seven villains, four sokemen, 
and four bordars the villains were what we should 
now call day-labourers : the soke or soc men were 
persons of various degrees, from small owners 
under a greater lord, to mere husbandmen : the 
bordars are considered by most specialists in 
Domesday terminology to have been mere drudges, 
hewers of wood, drawers of water. The mill, when 
this survey of 1085 was made, was worth four 
shillings. There were ten acres of meadow. And 
the great lord of the place was that Ilbert de Lacy 
to whom William the Conqueror had given vast 
possessions stretching widely across country from 
Lincolnshire into Lancashire, and whose chief 
stronghold was then building at Pontefract, a few 
miles to the south-east. 

There is a significant fact attaching to what 
we know of the history of Leeds at this particular 
period. In 1085, when the Domesday Survey 
was made, the greater part of what had only 
recently begun to be called Yorkshire (and York- 
shire, says Stubbs " Constitutional History/' i. 
IOQ was the only one of the existing sub-divisions 
of the old Northumbrian Kingdom styled as a 
shire before the Conquest) lay waste the result 
of the terrible revenge which the Conqueror had 
wreaked on Yorkshire folk after the York rising 


of 1070. But Leeds was evidently not waste. 
Nor were the various lands around Pontefract, 
nor, as far as we can gather, were any of the various 
manors which belonged to the de Lacy fee. The 
probability, then, is that the lands of the de Lacy 
ownership were all specially protected when the 
harrying of the North took place. Leeds accord- 
ingly profited by the fact that William had given 
it to one of his chief favourites. While the greater 
part of the county was absolutely destitute of 
human life, and all the land northward lay blackened 
as the effect of the fire which had burned thorpe 
and toft, homestead and cot, Leeds in 1085 had a 
population of at least two hundred people. But 
of any close connection between Leeds and the 
de Lacies there is little record : their chief history 
in Yorkshire centres in and around the great castle 
which they built at Pontefract. Many of their 
manors were sub-let : Leeds, at some period very 
soon after the Norman Conquest, was sub-let to 
one Ralph Paganel. 

Of these Paganels we know much more, in 
connection with Leeds, than- we know of the de 
Lacy overlords. Ralph Paganel, or Paynel, figures 
largely in the Domesday entries. He was one of 
the principal tenants-in-chief in Yorkshire ; he had 
land in all these Ridings ; he had properties in 
many other English counties ; he held estates 
which had formerly belonged to the Canons of 
York Minster : the entries relating to him in 
Domesday Book are many. He is returned as 
holding a great deal of land of Ilbert de Lacy ; 
he held Headingley and Sturton (in the parish of 
Aberford) as well as Leeds. He must, indeed, have 
been one of the chief mesne-tenants in Yorkshire 


and he was High Sheriff of the county in the 
year mo. He founded, and liberally endowed, 
the Priory of Holy Trinity at York, delivering it, 
and all the wealth he gave with it, "to Blessed 
Martin of Marmoutier and to his monks to be in 
their possession for ever for the soul of my I^ord 
King William and of his wife Matilda and for the 
redemption and good estate of his son William, 
who has also willingly authorized this gift, with 
the assent of my wife Matilda, and my sons William, 
Jordan, Elias and Alexander ... so that we 
may have in time to come a share of the Blessed 
Resurrection/' The William Paganel here men- 
tioned by his father imitated his pious example, 
and founded the Priory of Drax : other Paganels 
gave largely to the Abbey of Kirkstall. 

It was from a descendant of the Paganels, 

described as Maurice de Gaunt, that the folk of 

Leeds received their first charter. This was in 

November, 1207. Two years earlier, when Maurice 

de Gaunt was still a minor, a suit was brought 

in his behalf against the Prior of Holy Trinity, 

York, in respect of the advowson of the parish 

church of St. Peter in I/eeds, all the rights of which 

benefice had been included in Ralph Paganel's 

original grant to the Priory. By the time the 

lyeeds charter was given, he had come of age, and, 

for the purposes of the charter, had for the nonce 

assumed the name of his maternal ancestors the 

preamble of the charter, at any rate, is so worded 

. . . "I Maurice Paynall have given and granted 

and by this charter confirmed to my burgesses 

of I^eeds and their heirs franchise and free burgage 

and their tofts and with each toft half an acre of 

land for tillage to hold these of me and my heirs 


in fief and inheritance freely quit and honourably 
rendering annually to me and my heirs for each 
toft and half an acre of land sixteen pence at 
Pentecost and at Martinmas." So ran this preamble 
of the charter various provisions in its body were 
for the appointment of a bailiff (prator) to preside 
over a court of justice, to collect rents and dues, 
and to fine recalcitrants; others stipulated for 
aids when the lord needed monetary help, and 
placed tenants under obligation to grind corn at 
his mill and bake in his oven. 

We know, accordingly, something of what 
Leeds was at the beginning of the thirteenth century. 
It had a lord who was powerful, though he was 
feudatory to a more powerful overlord. It had a 
parish church a few years later that parish church 
was rebuilt ; still a few years more, and we hear 
of a chantry of St. Mary Magdalene being founded 
in it. It had certain rights of self-government; 
it had burgesses who were freemen ; it had at 
least one man in it at the time the charter was 
granted who was something of a scholar, for Ralph 
de Leeds, who signed it as witness, adds that he 
himself transcribed the charter. But the popu- 
lation was small in 1207 : it remained scanty for 
a long time afterwards. At the time of the famous 
Poll Tax of 1379 it appears not to have exceeded 
three hundred persons at the very outside ; it 
was certainly one of the smallest towns in York- 
shire, such places as Snaith, Ripon, Tickhill, and 
Selby exceeding it in importance. And by that 
time it had long passed out of the hands of the 
Paganels and the de Lacies. Maurice de Gaunt 
lost his rights by figuring on the wrong side at 
the battle of Lincoln in 1217 ; they passed from 


him to Ranulf, Karl of Chester, and through him 
reverted to the original owners ; when the de I/acy 
estates became merged by marriage in the Duchv 
of Lancaster they passed to the royal family, and, 
on the accession of Henry IV., were absorbed 
into the possessions of the Crown. 


WHIIyE Leeds was yet without its first charter, 
and only slowly growing out of its hamlet 
stage, there was already rising close by, in the 
valley of the Aire, one of those great Cistercian 
abbeys of which Yorkshire by the middle of the 
twelfth century possessed no fewer than eight. 
That century witnessed the firm establishment of 
the Cistercian order in England. In 1128 a few 
monks from Aumone, in the diocese of Chartres, 
settled at Waverley, in Surrey, under the pro- 
tection of William Giffard, Bishop of Winchester 
from Waverley sprang the daughter houses of 
Ford and Garendon, Combe and Thame; by the 
end of the century at least one hundred similar 
houses had been set up in different parts of the 
country. Of these none became so famous, none 
were on such a scale as those which were founded 
in certain wild and solitary places amongst the 
Yorkshire dales. Rievaulx, directly colonized 
from Clairvaux itself, under the supervision of 
the great St. Bernard, came first in 1131 ; Foun- 
t^ins followed in 1132; Byland was established 
in 1143 and Jervaulx in 1145 ; Salley was set up 
in 1146 and Roche and Kirkstall in 1147 ; Meaux; 
the one house in the East Riding, had its begin- 
nings in 1150. All these houses were of great 



size and importance ; there are still considerable 
remains of all but Meaux ; those of Kirkstall, 
now the property of the townsfolk of Leeds, show 
that it only ranked second to its magnificent 
neighbour of Fountains. 

Kirkstall had its origin in a vow made in sick- 
ness by Henry de Lacy, whose family, since the 
time of Ilbert, had been distinguished for its 
benefactions to the church. Robert de Lacy was 
the virtual founder of the great Augustinian Priory 
at Nostell and of the Cluniac house at Pontefract ; 
in Pontefract Edmund de Lacy established the 
Dominicans. Many of the notable parish churches 
between Leeds and the Barnsdale district owed 
their twelfth-century restoration to this family ; 
most probably to Henry de Lacy, Ilbert's grand- 
son: the foundation of Kirkstall, at any rate, is 
definitely associated with his name. Being stricken 
with a sore sickness about the year 1146-7 
he made a vow that if God would grant him re- 
newed health he would found a house of Cistercian 
monks in honour of the Blessed Virgin. His prayer 
being granted, he took counsel with the Abbot of 
Fountains, and arranged the establishment of a 
Cistercian house at Barnoldswick, a bleak and 
solitary spot amidst the wilds of Craven. Thither 
thirteen of the monks of Fountains one, Alex- 
ander, being chosen abbot and ten lay brethren 
duly repaired, and settled in May, 1147. But the 
experiment was not fortunate at least, so far as 
the first site is concerned. The community appears 
to have got into trouble with the parish priest of 
Barnoldswick ; its members complained of the 
bitterness of the Craven climate, and before long 
there was an appeal to Rome in the matter of 


removal. That, however, came about in another 
fashion. Abbot Alexander, being on his travels, 
and passing through the lower stretches of Aire- 
dale, lighted upon a small body of hermits 
already established at Kirkstall, near I^eeds. They 
were under the rule of one Seleth, with whom 
Alexander quickly came to terms: to Kirkstall, 
all things being arranged, he would transplant 
his dissatisfied community at Barnoldswick. Forth- 
with he repaired to Henry de I/acy, the new 
proposal in his mind. But Kirkstall belonged 
probably was let to one William Peytvin; Henry 
de I/acy acted as intermediary in securing his 
consent. Then came the removal from Craven; 
the absorption of the hermits into the brother- 
hood ; somewhere about 1150-52 the great abbey 
began building. At the time of the resettlement 
at Kirkstall the community appears to have been 
housed in temporary wooden cells the first church 
may even have been of wood. But there are vast 
stone-quarries in that neighbourhood, and by 1160 
Kirkstall Abbey, as we know it from its considerable 
remains, was in process of erection, and according 
to architectural experts, few English monastic 
houses have been so little altered from the original 
plan and execution during the succeeding centuries. 
Of present monastic remains in England, none 
exceed Kirkstall in extent and magnificence, with 
the sole exception of Fountains, and almost every- 
thing that the visitor now looks upon is the work 
of the twelfth-century builders. 

It is difficult for us ,of this generation to form 
any accurate idea of what the lower stretches of 
Airedale were like when Alexander and his monks 
came to it from Barnoldswick, Nowadays there 


is an almost continuous line of town or suburb 
from Leeds to Shipley, and the evidences of in- 
dustrialism in the shape of factory or forge are 
many on both sides of the river. But in those 
days anything outside Leeds, going northward, 
must have been in the nature of a solitude, and 
the Aire itself a clear and uncontaminated stream, 
as fresh at Kirkstall as when it poured out of its 
first sources in the Craven Hills. On the level 
sward by its eastern bank these founders built 
their church and cloister in the severe style 
peculiar to their order. There were similarities 
between Kirkstall and the earlier foundation at 
Fountains the aisled nave, the north and south 
transepts with their eastern chapels, the short, 
aisleless chancel, the central tower at the crossing. 
Gradually all the distinctive features of a Cistercian 
house arose the Galilee, the Cloister, the Chapter 
House, the -Abbot's Lodging: much of it may be 
seen to this day. What may not be seen and 
can only be revived in imagination is the daily 
life spent here for four hundred years the per- 
petual round of offices, the daily obligation, the 
daily task, the supervision of the trades and crafts 
to which the Cistercians in all their houses gave 
themselves up when they were not engaged in 
prayer. Here, as at Fountains, much trade was 
done in wool and farm produce; here, too, was 
a forge whereat iron was worked forerunner of 
the great modern forge, close by, whose products 
are sent broadcast over the world. 

Of various matters connected with Kirkstall 
we may gain some ideas and information from 
ancient documents, charters, and legal archives. 
Two of its Abbots were presumably Leeds men 


the thirteenth, William, who succeeded in 1269, 
and the twenty-first, Roger, who was elected 1349. 
In his Notes on the Religious and Secular Houses 
of Yorkshire extracted from the Public Records 
(Yorkshire Archaeological Society's Record Series : 
xvii) Mr. W. P. Baildon gives numerous examples 
of how the Abbey came before public tribunals 
now and again in relation to its possessions, its 
rights, and not seldom in its differences with 
its neighbours. In 1269 Anketin Malure brings 
a suit against Abbot Simon, Ranulf de Berdesey 
and others for cutting down trees in his wood at 
Clifford to the value of 100 shillings : in 1284 the 
Abbot sues Luke de Ryther, Henry le Forester 
and others, of Ulleskelf, for cutting his trees at 
Cumpton to the value of EO. In 1285 Isabella 
de Fortibus, Countess of Albemarl, goes to law 
with the Abbot of Kirkstall, Brother Hugh de 
Grymeston, Brother William de Foleford, and 
others for seizing her cattle, to wit eight cows and 
four bullocks ; they were driven, she pleads, to the 
Abbot's pound at Berdesey and there illegally 
detained, and she claims five pounds as damages. 
Four years later, the Abbot takes out process 
against Thomas de Eltoft and two others for 
forcibly rescuing one Robert, son of Richard 
Wigan, the Abbot's native, in his manor of Ber- 
desey, whom the Abbot, for a certain act of in- 
subordination, had put in the stocks previous to 
whipping him. In 1369 the Abbot charges John 
de lyedecombe, parson of the church at Castleford, 
and John Proctour of the same place, with mowing 
and carrying away the Abbot's corn and grass : 
in 1378 and again in 1385 he summons various 
persons, and amongst them a chaplain, Adam de 


Shepeley, for entering his fee warrens at Horsforth, 
and Cookridge, and Headingley, and there helping 
themselves to his pheasants, partridges, rabbits, 
and hares. It would appear, indeed, that suc- 
cessive Abbots had much ado to look after the 
property of the house in various ways one de- 
fendant, Richard Bayldon, of Snytall, is charged 
in 1399 in digging the Abbot's sea-coal at that 
place to the value of twenty pounds, a very con- 
siderable sum at that period. 

Though never as rich nor as influential as 
Fountains, Kirkstall, as time went on, came to 
possess many lands and much wealth. Like 
Fountains, it had its time of poverty, but that 
time was a brief one. " Before the monks had 
been many months at Kirkstall/' says Mr. W. T. 
Lancaster (Thoresby Society's Records, v, is), 
" they had acquired valuable properties in Round- 
hay, Chapeltown, and Bramley, as well as in Head- 
ingley. Before they had been there a dozen years, 
the foundation of their great estate in Horsforth 
had been laid, the valuable grange of Micklethwaite 
had been established, and they had obtained 
considerable properties in the neighbourhood of 
Keighley and Cantley near Doncaster. By 1172 
they had received their first grant in Cookridge, 
and some time afterwards Baldwin Fitz Ralph, 
Lord of Bramhope, was called to witness the cession 
of the whole of Cookridge to the monks by its 
owner, Roger Mustel." The various charters and 
documents appertaining to Kirkstall show that 
its possessions were spread over a considerable 
part of the West Riding it had lands at Aber- 
ford, Add, Armley, Arthington, Bardsey, Burley, 
Calverley, Collingham, Garforth, Pool, Pndsey, and 


Pontefract, and a considerable tract in Wharfcdale. 
When it was surrendered by Abbot John Ripley 
in 1540 its annual value was returned at a little 
over 500. 

In the various State Papers relating to the 
Dissolution of the Monasteries there is not so 
much about Kirkstall as about certain other of 
the Cistercian houses in Yorkshire. It was duly 
visited by Thomas Cromwell's agents, Dr. Richard 
Layton and Dr. Thomas Legh, in 1536. Sent 
down to Yorkshire as commissioners tinder the 
new and extraordinary powers granted by Henry 
VIII. to Cromwell as Vicar-General, Legh and 
Layton arrived at York in the first weeks of that 
year, and immediately became active in inventing 
charges against the religious orders and in bribing 
some and terrorizing other superiors of monastic 
houses into submission. They made a remarkably 
speedy tour round the principal abbeys and priories 
so speedy, indeed, that their visits to some 
could not have exceeded an hour in duration 
and forwarded a report to Cromwell in which 
little more than bare mention of any place is re- 
corded. All they have to say of Kirkstall in this 
account of their itinerary is in a few words : " Item 
to Chrystall Abbey of the Cystercyenes off the 
furat fundacyon off St. Pattfylld Pictaviensis, 
Knyght." In the unprintable Compendium Com- 
fiertorium they say that the founder was the king. 
In the correspondence between Cromwell and the 
various Yorkshire gentlemen who acted as com- 
missioners at the actual Dissolution a few years 
later there is scarcely any reference to Kirkstall. 
But when it had been dismantled, it was granted 
by Henry VIII. to Archbishop Crannjer, who also 


got the possessions of the neighbouring Priory 
of Arthington both these grants were confirmed 
anew under Edward VI. According to a note in 
Atkinson's "Life of Thoresby," Queen Mary took 
possession of Kirkstall on Ccanmer's attainder, and 
in Todd's " Life of Cranmer " there is an urgent 
memorial from Cranmer's son to Queen Elizabeth, 
praying that it may be restored to the family. 
Eventually it came into possession of the Saviles, 
and from them to the Earls of Cardigan, in whose 
holding it remained until recent times, when, by 
the generosity of a native of Leeds, the late 
Colonel North, it was acquired for the townsfolk 
of Leeds and converted into a popular resort for 
the people. 

Once a house of prayer and labour, now a play- 
ground, Kirkstall had at one period of its history 
a fairly constant visitor who took vast interest 
in its ruined walls. Ralph Thoresby 's diary and 
letters show that the great antiquary was fond 
of spending a few hours at the ancient abbey which 
was but an hour's journey from his house in Leeds* 
He had no sentimental love of the memory of the 
Cistercians, for he was a somewhat narrow-minded 
and bigoted Protestant, but he had the born 
antiquary's true love of the ancient, and was, more- 
over, an inveterate collector of rarities. About 
1714 he hears that a stone coffin has been found 
by the wall of the garden at Kirkstall, and hastens 
to see it. The head part of the coffin is covered 
by a slab of stone, the rest with "small tiles, 
though larger than the Romans', of various forms 
and colours." He is inclined to tTiitiV that these 
tiles once formed part of a Roman tessellated 
pavement ; having viewed the coffin he concludes 


rather rashly that it is that of what he calls 
the "Master Pontificer" of the building. He 
contrives to secure some of the tiles : they go, 
of course, into his museum of curiosities. On the 
2nd April, 1720, he walks out to Zirkstall, " and 
by the help of my friend Mr. Lucas got up some 
of the tiles lately discovered, wherewith the Abbey, 
at least that part nigh the High Altar, was paved ; 
there were some rows of blue and yellow ones set 
chequer-wise under the last wall, as afterwards 
others, more in view, with fleur-de-lys painted 
on them. Of these latter we found none, but 
brought of the others home with me." He is there 
again a fortnight later, and does so much unearth- 
ing of more tiles and stones "that we were late 
and in the dark." He makes fresh discoveries 
now and then in wandering about. " Pound a 
door open which I had never seen before, clambered 
up seventy-seven steps to a pinnacle; there are 
seven pillars on each side from there upon which 
the steeple stands to the west end; at the east 
three chapels for the several altars on either side 
of the high altar; in viewing the ruins . . . was 
pleased to find some of the British or Roman 
bricks." It was a favourite theory of Thoresby's 
that much Roman brick had been used at Kirkstall 
by the original builders he collected many for 
his museum : they were, he notes, " eight inches 
broad and almost double the length." He also 
found another sort of bricks there, 11X5X2, which 
he thinks were laid down when the abbey was 
built. These, too, figured in the collection in his 
museum a better receptacle, certainly, than the 
pig-stye or cow-house so often built out of ecclesi- 
astical ruin. Leeds folk had a portion of the 


ruins of Kirkstall in their midst for a long time, 
for, according to the Boke of Accompts kept by 
the Church Wardens from 1583, the stairs built 
on the west side of I^eeds Bridge were of stone 
brought from " Chrisstall Abbey." 


BEFORE we endeavour to realize some notion 
of Leeds as it appeared during the Middle 
Age, it will be well to take a short view of York- 
shire as the county existed in the full tide of 
feudalism. It is difficult to imagine the sparcity 
of its population especially when one bears in 
mind that there are now well over four millions 
of people living within the three Ridings. But in 
the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries 
Yorkshire was as scantily populated, everywhere, 
as the most solitary stretches of the various Dales 
or the North York moors are to-day as in their 
case, there was a small town here and there, a tiny 
hamlet, an isolated farm steading, and though 
they were then in their full pride, and not, as now, 
in ruins the castle of the nobleman, and the 
abbey or priory of the monk. At the time of 
the Domesday Survey the total population of the 
county was between 7000 and 8000 : in 1379, the 
year of a notable Poll Tax, it probably did not 
exceed 90,000. There was then no town which 
we of this day would call large in the reign of 
Edward III., York, the largest, could boast no 
more than 10,000 inhabitants ; Pontefract, the 
next most important place, came a considerable 
distance behind. Of the present great cities Leeds, 



Bradford, Sheffield we know little more than 
that they were small and insignificant places : 
the places of importance were towns like Tickhill, 
Hedon, Boroughbridge, Knaresborough, and the 
like, long since sunk to unimportance. Yet there 
were then features of the county which must have 
assumed a rare significance and importance in the 
eyes of those who saw them. By the end of the 
fifteenth century York Minster stood finished as 
we see it to-day. In the East Riding men mar- 
velled at the beauties of Beverley ; in the lower 
stretches of Wensleydale, at the plainer perfec- 
tions of Ripon. Everywhere rose glorious parish 
churches Hedon and Patrington, Rotherham and 
Hemingborough, Halifax and Tickhill; there was 
scarce a village in which the devotion of the people 
and the munificence of the private benefactor had 
not erected a temple worthy of Christianity. And 
in addition to the white walls of these newly built 
houses of peace there had risen all over the county 
the equally fresh walls of other buildings, raised 
for vastly different purposes the great castles and 
square keeps of the Norman barons : Pontefract 
and Richmond, Knaresborough and Pickering, 
Scarborough and Sandal. Two powers were every- 
where in evidence the power of the Church, the 
power of the armed man. 

York became principal town and centre of 
Yorkshire for two reasons it was admirable as 
a military position, and its relation to the rivers 
and the North Sea rendered it a useful commercial 
centre. One or other of these reasons gave a spur 
to the progress of the other towns which became 
of importance in the Middle Age. But for a 
long time, at any rate Leeds was slow in growth. 


Its site had no particular military advantages : 
the great strategic position of that part of York- 
shire was at Pontefract, close by. It had, at first, 
no commercial values it may have been that its 
first beginnings in its staple trade sprang from 
the wool growing of the Cistercians at Kirkstall, 
on its borders. But during the first three or four 
centuries after the Norman Conquest the town- 
ship was probably concerned with little more than 
agriculture, and such trade as it knew was con- 
fined to those retailings which establish them- 
selves wherever communities spring up dealings 
in the necessities of life, which, reduced to a mini- 
mum, are merely food and clothing. The town 
itself was small it was probably confined within 
a triangle formed on the lines of the present lower 
Briggate, Kirkgate, and the river Aire, with the 
parish church at one angle somewhere about, 
perhaps on, the site of the modern one. The 
streets would be narrow, unpaved, unlighted 
some of them as narrow, no doubt, as the Friar's 
Wynd at Richmond, or the curious alleys of Great 
Yarmouth. The houses, in spite of the fact that 
stone is so plentiful in the district, would be of 
wood, as a rule, or of pot and pan work, white- 
washed, and possibly, in many cases, thatched. 
All around the little town lay the open fields and 
meadows, cultivated on the principle of strip- 
farming. And beyond these lay the still thick 
woods of the old forest of Elmet and well into 
the Middle Age the town swineherds would take 
put the burgesses' pigs to eat acorns in their glades, 
nd the town woodman would ply his trade amongst 
the oaks and beeches for the good of the com- 


The church at that time, as all through the 
Middle English period, would be the true centre 
of the town's life. Between town and parish, in 
terms, there was no difference, and as the church 
was centre of the parish, so it was centre-point of 
the town. It was, moreover, a centre of self- 
government "the parish," says Bishop Hob- 
house, "was the community of the township 
organized for Church purposes, and subject to 
Church discipline, with a constitution which recog- 
nized the rights of the whole body as an aggregate, 
and the right of every adult member, whether 
man or woman, to a voice in self-government." 
Naturally, therefore, the folk took a vast pride 
in their parish church. Much of the work neces- 
sary for its up-keep was done by themselves : 
masonry, woodwork, ironwork by the men ; the 
mending very often the making of vestments, 
the care and cleaning of the interior by the women. 
The church was the scene of vestry meetings, the 
head office of the guilds ; it was not a place to be 
sought perfunctorily on Sunday, but one to be 
used at all days and all hours. The labourers' 
Mass was said in it every working-day morning : 
its door stood open from Mattins to Compline : 
in a true sense of the word it was Home. Here 
in Leeds the parish church had all the advantages 
of ancient foundation. We know from the Domes- 
day record that it and its priest were in existence 
in the days of Edward the Confessor ; there had 
probably been a church at the foot of Kirkgate 
from the days of St. Paulinus. By the end of the 
fourteenth century St. Peter's of Leeds had become 
a benefice of no little value ; at the time of the 
Poll Tax of 1379 it was reckoned as being worth 


80 a year a large sum in our money and .the 
Prior of Holy Trinity at York was then receiving 
from the Vicar of Leeds one annual pension of 
ten pounds. About this time, too, several chantries 
had been established in connection with the parish 
church, though not within the fabric, after the 
usual fashion. There was a chantry, dedicated 
to Our Lady, at the North Bar; a third, at the 
foot of Briggate, either on or near the bridge 
probably founded and endowed for the use of 
travellers. Later, Thomas Clarell, vicar, founded 
the Chantry of St. Catherine in the parish church 
itself : his successor, William Evers, Evre, or 
Eure, vicar, founded the Chantry of St. Mary 
Magdalene at the north-east corner of Briggate. 
Even though Leeds had, when Iceland visited it 
in 1536, but " one paroche church, reasonably 
well builded," it was never without church influence. 
One great purpose the Church in those days 
carried into constant effect it stood between 
the poor folk and their over-lords, who, if they 
were not oppressors by nature and choice, possessed 
powers of a most arbitrary description. Municipal 
life, outside the Church affairs, there was none 
the lord of the manor was, in all intents and 
purposes, a supreme autocrat. He obliged the 
people to bake at his oven and grind at his mill. 
He could suddenly interrupt their business by 
calling on them to follow him to war. He had the 
first call on their labour. He imposed what taxes 
he pleased. He seized on their goods at his will, 
and threw them into prison if they made resistance 
to the seizing. No widow might take a new 
husband without his consent ; no man become a 
burgess unless he approved. No inhabitant could 



leave the township without his leave ; all mar- 
riages of young people must be submitted to him. 
He made the laws of the markets and collected 
its tolls ; in many places he had the power of life 
and death, and that Leeds was one of such places 
seems to be proved from mention of a place called 
Gallows Field in the Manor Rolls of 1650. 

A part of the present Briggate from time 
immemorial the principal thoroughfare of Leeds 
inasmuch as it leads straight from the bridge over 
the Aire through the heart of the town seems 
from a very early period to have been the site of 
the Market, always a highly important place in 
a medieval town. Here, on any market day, the 
lord's collectors would be seen, moving from stall 
to stall, insisting on their dues, which, when they 
were collected, would be paid in to the toll-booth, 
where the head collector, or chief bailiff sat in 
supervision. There was much supervision in those 
days officials were as numerous as they seem 
likely to become in these. There was an Assize 
of Bread bakers whose loaves were not up to the 
standard, or who offended by giving short weight, 
met with summary punishment by being dragged 
through the streets on a hurdle, their loaves tied 
round their necks. There was an Assize of Ale 
if the liquor brewed by the ale-wives failed to 
satisfy the palates of the ale-tasters, the vendors 
quickly found themselves in the pillory or sub- 
jected to a fine. There was an Assize of Measures 
and somewhere in the township, usually against 
the wall of the church, there was a standard of 
length, against which the seller of fabrics must 
test his yard measure. In such a town as Leeds, 
when cloth began to be sold in quantit}% we 


be sure that short length was jealously looked 

While the people looked to the Church for 
protection against undue oppression, they also 
looked to it for something which, so far as we 
can see, they would never have got without it 
rest. Our medieval forefathers of the dominant 
class had no niceties about labour in their opinion 
the man whose lot was work must discharge his 
obligations from the rising of the sun to its setting. 
There was no talk in those times of eight-hour- 
days, nor even of half -holidays. But here the 
Church was powerful no man might labour on 
her holy days. The holy days were many far 
too many, in the opinion of some folk. But they 
were a welcome relief to the working folk, for their 
lot, in general, was a hard one. The glamour 
of distance is so thickly thrown around the Middle 
Age that we are apt to think of it as nothing but 
a romantic and picturesque period. Yet what 
would be the condition of a Leeds man of the 
common multitude in, say, the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries ? His home would be little 
better than a hovel, set in a miserable alley. His 
dress would be hose and tunic, gay enough in 
colour, no doubt, but poor and coarse in material ; 
his wife would be clothed just enough for decency, 
his children would ran about in rags, if not in semi- 
nudity. His food would be as coarse as his dress : 
he would throw the bones on his mud floor, just 
as unconcernedly as he would throw any and all 
household refuse and slops on the manure heap 
at his door. He fetched his water from the river 
fortunately, the Aire in those days was still 
lincontaminated by the products of mills and 

3 6 LEEDS 

factories. He knew nothing of hygiene, nothing 
of sanitation. Hence the frightful epidemics which 
were always breaking out : hence the lazar-houses 
which existed in nearly every town. The Fran- 
ciscans, bringing into England some simple know- 
ledge of the healing art, found as much need to 
mend the body as to spur up the spirit when they 
fixed themselves in the poorer quarters of the 
cities. Looked at from a certain standpoint, the 
Middle Age was picturesque but it was essentially 
an age of dirt and disease ; of squalor, and of hard, 
dull, cheerless existence. It seems a curious, even 
a paradoxical thing to say, but it is wonderfully 
true that the medieval working man's chief recrea- 
tion lay in practising his religion. 

But always, out of the dirt and the disease, 
and the ceaseless toil, and the oppressions of the 
great, things moved forward, even in those days. 
Little by little, the people got some power to 
govern themselves. Sometimes they got con- 
cessions by favour; more usually they bought it 
with their hard-earned money. A new charter 
of rights ; an enlarged market-charter ; the ex- 
changing of a fixed yearly payment for the vexa- 
tious collection of tolls and dues ; the buying-out 
of the lord in some matter that affected him little, 
and themselves a great deal ; the doing away with 
his bailiff, and the substitution of their own head- 
man ; finally, the winning of the best thing of all, 
a charter of incorporation and the setting up of a 
common council, presided over by a mayor these 
were the various steps by which the communities 
advanced to freedom and liberty. But great 
assistance also came from the setting up of the 
Gilds. They began far back as far as Saxon 


times and at first they were entirely associated 
with the parish church : they corresponded to the 
modern associations which are nowadays found 
in most well-regulated parishes. They buried the 
dead, they rang the bells, they nursed the sick, 
they sought out the poor. This successful banding 
together of men for a common object led to the 
establishment of secular gilds of craftsmen and 
tradesmen. In Yorkshire they were flourishing 
exceedingly by the beginning of the fifteenth 
century there were then thirty-eight at Beverley 
and sixty at York. Their rules were strict ; in 
some cases they seem harsh. But they made for 
the general welfare of the community, and they 
were a great protection against outside interference. 
They laid down regulations which protected men 
against master, and master against man ; they 
encouraged that theory of economics which we 
now associate with the term " most favoured." 
As time progressed they became rich and powerful, 
associations to be held in respect by the authori- 
ties, whether municipal or land-owning. Men left 
money to them : the wills of that period show that 
it was quite a common thing for a man who was 
making his last testamentary disposition to re- 
member the gild to which he had belonged. Some 
of the amounts so left seem to us ridiculously 
small, but they are typical and significant of the 
spirit of the times. Thomas Moor of lyeeds leaves 
one shilling to the Jesu Gild in 1524 ; William 
Atkinson benefits it to the extent of three shillings 
and fourpence three years later; Gilbert Casson 
bequeathed to its priest twelvepence a little later 
still ; similar benefactions are recorded in connection 
with the gilds in all the Yorkshire towns. When 

38 . LEEDS 

the gilds were swept out of existence in the six- 
teenth century a vast wrong was committed ; 
they, perhaps more than any other institution, 
had helped to free the many from the arbitrary 
rule of the individual. 

IV. 1530-1661 

r I ^HBRE is a curious proof that at the beginning 
1 of what we may fitly call its period of 
transition, Leeds had not yet taken rank amongst 
even the smaller Yorkshire towns. In a document 
dated 1470 it is referred to as being " near Roth- 
well." Now, Rothwell is an ancient village in 
the neighbourhood, nowadays given up to coal- 
mining, and probably much bigger than it ever 
was at any period of its sufficiently long history, 
but it was no more than a village at the date just 
mentioned. What, then, was Leeds, to be written 
about as being " near " so insignificant a place ? 
It had evidently not emerged from its chrysalis 
stage. But within the next half-century it made 
some emergence. Its trade in woollen cloths 
began to develop, and when Leland visited it in 
1536 he was able to report of it that it was a pretty 
market town which stood most by clothing and 
was as large as Bradford, though not so " quik," 
by which he evidently meant not so enterprising. 
However, we know something definite about Leeds 
as it was during that eventful sixteenth century. 
Its boundaries had been extended. At the time 
of Iceland's visit, it had widened itself as far as the 
present Upperhead Row in one direction and to 
what is now Park Row in . another. The value 
of the tithes of the parish at the Dissolution of the 



Monasteries amounted to 48. And that the popu- 
lation was steadily increasing is proved by the fact 
that in 1574 there were 133 baptisms, 32 marriages, 
and 78 burials recorded in the newly started registers 
of the parish church. Nevertheless, much of the 
old life and conditions still existed. The Crown 
was now over-lord, and had been so ever since the 
accession of Henry IV., and the folk still ground 
their corn at the King's mills and baked their bread 
at the King's oven. There was as yet no charter 
of incorporation, and though the people were 
rapidly approaching to conditions of liberty their 
lot was still not very appreciably different to that 
of their forefathers. Up to the end of the sixteenth 
century Leeds may be looked upon as existing in 

The Dissolution of the Religious Orders in 
1536-40, while it made a vast difference to York- 
shire generally, probably affected Leeds very little 
unless it was to force an increasing amount of 
poor into its narrow streets. Within Leeds itself 
there had never been any monastic establishment. 
Houses of religion of one sort or another, from 
great abbeys to small cells, had existed in some 
one hundred and fifty separate places in Yorkshire 
Leeds never knew one. Neither Dominicans nor 
Franciscans ever settled in her she could not show 
a single religious hospital. Consequently there was 
no ptJling down and rooting out in her midst. Her 
only connection with monastic institutions was 
with Kirkstall, which, close as it was, was yet 
outside her boundaries, and, through her parish 
church of St. Peter, with the Benedictine House of 
Holy Trinity at York. We know from the Calendar 
of State Papers (Henry VIII.) what became of the 

1530-1661 41 

Leeds lands and possessions which had belonged 
to the York priory. Thomas Culpeper got the 
advowson of the parish church of Leeds " to hold 
by the hundredth part of a knight's fee " (Calendar : 
xiii, ii, 282). It was, later, sold by Culpeper 's son, 
Alexander, to Rowland Cowick, of London, who in 
his turn sold it to another London man, Thomas 
Preston, citizen and draper, who subsequently sold 
it to Edmund Darnley, citizen and haberdasher. 
Sir Arthur Darcy (son of the Lord Darcy who was 
beheaded for his share in the Pilgrimage of Grace) 
got the lands in Leeds, Holbeck, Kirkstall, Wortley, 
and in many other adjacent places. Henceforth 
the folk who had lived under the easy rule of the 
Churchmen were to pay their rents and dues to 
Henry VIII. *s new landed gentry. 

There are no records of any provision for educa- 
tion in Leeds prior to the Reformation. But the 
lack of them by no means proves that there were 
no educational facilities. No greater mistake can 
be made than to suppose that there was no educa- 
tion in England for the common folk in the Middle 
Age. " Absolutely unlettered ignorance ought not 
to be alleged against the lower and middle classes 
of these ages," says Stubbs. "In every village 
reading and writing must have been not unknown 
accomplishments . . . schools were by no means 
uncommon things . . . towards the close of the 
Middle Ages there was much vitality in the schools." 
("Constitutional History," iii, 608.) Mr. A. F. 
Leach, in his " English Schools at the Reformation," 
and in the two volumes of his " Early Yorkshire 
Schools," has abundantly proved that education 
was by no means in neglect in England in general 
and in Yorkshire in particular previous to the 


sixteenth-century upheaval. Still, we get no 
mention of education in Leeds until 1552, when 
x)ne William Sheafield, who seems to have been 
identical with William Sheaffield, chantry priest 
of St. Catherine in Leeds, left property in the 
town for the establishment of a learned school- 
master who should teach freely for ever such 
scholars, youths, and children as should resort to 
him with, the wise proviso that the Leeds folk 
themselves should find a suitable building and 
make up the master's salary to ten pounds a year. 
Here is the origin of Leeds Grammar School which, 
first housed in the Calls, and subsequently in Lady 
Lane, had by the end of that century become an 
institution of vast importance and was to develop 
to even far greater things. 

As the sixteenth century drew to a close, and 
while the seventeenth was still young, the towns- 
folk of Leeds secured in the first instance at their 
own cost, in the second by a strictly limited Royal 
favour two important privileges the right of 
electing their own vicar and of governing them- 
selves in municipal affairs. In 1583 the town 
bought the advowson of the parish church from 
its then possessor, Oliver Darnley, for ^130, and 
henceforth the successive vicars were chosen by 
a body of trustees the most notably successful 
experiment in popular election which has ever 
been known in the National Church. In 1626, 
Leeds received its first charter of incorporation 
from Charles L, whose father had made himself 
unpopular in the town by selling the Royal Mills 
to Edward Ferrers and Francis Philips a few years 
earlier. The charter, premising that Leeds in the 
County of York is an ancient and populous town, 

1530-1661 43 

whose inhabitants are well acquainted with the 
Art and Mystery of making Woollen Cloths, sets 
up a governing body of one Alderman, nine Bur- 
gesses, and twenty Assistants, the first Alderman 
being Sir John Savile of Howley, Knight. But 
the privilege for some years was a limited one : 
the Crown reserved to itself the rights of appoint- 
ment to any of the thirty vacancies which might 
occur by death: popular election did not come 
for some time. Eighteen years after the granting 
of this charter I/eeds joined with other towns in 
the neighbourhood in a Memorial to the King 
wherein he was besought to settle his differences 
with the rebellious Parliament. Of this no notice 
was taken, and in the earlier stages of the Civil 
War the town was garrisoned for the Royal cause 
under Sir William Savile. 

We know something of what I^eeds was like 
at this stage of its history. It was really a town 
of one long and wide street, Briggate, from which 
narrow lanes ran off on either side. At the foot 
of Briggate, on the old bridge over the river Aire, 
the cloth market was held on Tuesdays and Satur- 
days. On the left side of Briggate, going up the 
street, was Swinegate on the flats between it and 
the river bank the cloth made in the town was 
stretched on frames called tenters. On the right 
was a narrow path known as The Calls it led 
through the burgesses' gardens to St. Peter's 
Church. On the same side as Swinegate was 
Boar lyane here several gentlemen of the county 
had their town houses. Opposite was Kirkgate 
here, too, there were gentlemen's houses: 
Edward Fairfax, the poet and translator, lived in 
one, John Thoresby, father of Ralph, in another; 


the great topographer himself was born in Kirk- 
gate : at the end of this street was the vicarage, 
and close by it the parish church, which had a 
tower nearly one hundred feet in height. In the 
centre of Briggate stood the Moot Hall ; at the top 
of Briggate was Upper Head Row, wherein was a 
notable house called Red Hall. Across the street 
was Nether Head Row, wherein was another fine 
house called Rockley Hall. There were narrow 
lanes and alleys in and about all these streets with 
gardens and open spaces here and there and all 
outside was country. The places which are now 
swallowed up in modern Leeds were the villages 
and hamlets, quite a distance away from its centre. 
But already there were signs that Leeds was ex- 
tending, for on the very edge of the town, just 
above Upper Head Row, John Harrison, a native, 
had, ten years before Marston Moor, built, at his 
own cost, a new church dedicated to St. John. 

But it was a very small Leeds which Sir William 
Savile occupied for the King in January, 1643, 
having under him 500 horse and 1500 foot. He 
made somewhat elaborate preparations for the 
defence of the place, digging a six-foot trench 
from St. John's Church by Upper Head Row, 
Boar Lane, and Swinegate to the banks of the 
river : erecting breastworks at the north end of 
the bridge, and placing demi-culverins in a position 
to sweep Briggate. Against him on Monday, Jan- 
uary 23, advanced the redoubtable Sir Thomas 
Fairfax, at the head of a Parliamentary force 
which appears to have numbered at least 3000 
horse and foot. Finding the bridge at Kirkstall 
broken down, Fairfax crossed the Aire at Apperley 
Bridge, and came on to Woodhouse Moor, a mile 

1530-1661 45 

out of the town, whence lie despatched a trumpet 
to Savile, calling on him to surrender. Savile 
returned the answer which was doubtless expected, 
and in the teeth of a heavy snowstorm, Fairfax 
led his troops forward to the assault. The action 
began about two o'clock of the afternoon and 
appears to have developed on all sides of the town. 
It rapidly went in favour of the assailants, and by 
four o'clock the Parliamentarian leaders and their 
troops were in Briggate and Boar Lane, while 
Sir William Savile, Vicar Robinson, and Captain 
Beaumont were fleeing for their lives. Beaumont 
was drowned in crossing the Aire ; Sir William 
and the vicar got safely to Methley. Fairfax took 
nearly 500 prisoners and immediately released 
them on their promising not to take up arms against 
the Parliament on any further occasion. Not a 
very great affair this, nor a very sanguinary one, 
yet it settled the question of King or Commons so 
far as that part of the West Riding was concerned. 
The Puritan regime followed on the first successes 
of the Parliamentarians, and Leeds saw two Puritan 
ministers placed in the parish church and the new 
church of St. John. But in 1644 Leeds folk had 
something else to think about than the preaching 
of Presbyterian doctrines from the town pulpits: 
an epidemic, so serious as to rank with the medieval 
visitations of plague, broke out, and resulted in 
the death of 1300 inhabitants not to speak of the 
mortality amongst animals. The weekly markets 
were discontinued, and deaths occurred with such 
startling rapidity that it was impossible to keep 
pace with them in the parish registers. 

In 1646 Charles I. came to Leeds a prisoner. 
After Jiis surrender of himself to the Scottish generals 


at Kelham, near Newark, lie was led northward to 
Newcastle; on his return from that city, later, in 
charge of the Parliamentary Commissioners who 
conducted him to Holmby, he spent one night in 
the house called Red Hall, in Upper Head Row, a 
somewhat fine mansion of red brick with pointed 
gables which had been erected earlier in the 
century by Thomas Metcalf, who was one of the 
original Burgesses named in the King's charter of 
just twenty years previously. Of the unhappy 
monarch's short stay in Leeds two stories are told 
which may or may not be strictly true they are 
none the less interesting. One is that a woman- 
servant so pitied the Royal captive that, finding 
an opportunity to speak with him in private, she 
offered to array him in her own clothes and convey 
him safely out of the town. Years later, when 
Charles II. had come to his own, this woman, 
being in London, contrived to acquaint him with 
the offer she had made to his father. Charles 
asked her of her husband's circumstances : she 
replied that he was then bailiff of Leeds (what 
official position this may have been the chroniclers 
do not tell), whereupon the King graciously said 
that henceforth he should be High-Bailiff of 
Yorkshire. The other story seems to be much 
more likely to be true John Harrison, the wealthy 
Leeds man, of whom we shall presently hear more, 
called upon Charles I. at Red Hall on the evening 
of his arrival and craved permission to present his 
Majesty with a cup of ale, which he had brought in 
a fine silver tankard, having a lid to it. The King 
accepted Harrison's proffered hospitality, and lifting 
the, lid of the tankard, found it filled, not with liquor, 
but with golden guineas, " which," says one of the 

1530-1661 47 

retailers of this story, " his Majesty did, with much 
celerity, hasten to secrete about his royal person." 

It seems curious that up to the middle of the 
seventeenth century Leeds had never been directly 
represented in Parliament. Many now quite in- 
significant places in Yorkshire had sent members 
to the House of Commons from a very early period 
Malton, Beverley, Northallerton had returned 
members as far back as 1298 : Otley had had two 
members for centuries, and had once petitioned 
Henry VI. to be relieved of them, because of the 
expense. But it was not until 1654 that Adam 
Baynes, an army agent of some influence at White- 
hall, was returned to sit at Westminster ; he was 
returned again two years later with Francis Allanson 
as a second member. This representation came to 
an end at the Restoration in 1660, and Leeds had 
no more members of Parliament until the great 
Reform Act of 1832. But in 1661 it received 
some concession from the Crown which was perhaps 
of more importance to it a new Municipal Charter. 
There had been some readjustment of the old one 
in 1642, but Charles II/s Charter was of a far- 
reaching nature. It set up a Mayor, twelve Alder- 
men, twenty-four Assistants or Councillors, a Town 
Clerk, and a Recorder ; it also provided for local 
election to vacancies. From the Charter of Charles 
I. and that of his son are derived the well-known 
arms of the town. The owls thereon are the Savile 
owls famous throughout the county, where the 
Saviles have been legion : the mullets figured on 
the arms of Thomas Danby, first Mayor. The 
dependent sheep typifies the wool trade. Locally 
this Leeds coat-of-arms is vulgarly known as " three 
ullets an* a tup i' trouble/' 


IN the seventeenth and eighteenth century 
records of Leeds and its folk occur regularly 
the names of two men who did great things for 
their native town John Harrison, Ralph Thoresby. 
One lived through the troublous times of the Civil 
War and died while Cromwell was still in full power ; 
the other was born two years before the Restora- 
tion of the Monarchy and lived to see a statue of 
Queen Anne set up before the Mot Hall in Briggate. 
Each had certain tastes in common : the second 
was a warm admirer of the first : both left their 
mark on Leeds and its corporate life. 

John Harrison was born in Leeds in 1579. He 
came of a stock which had acquired considerable 
property in the town or, rather, on an edge of 
it which was soon to be absorbed. He was the 
owner of a large tract of land lying at the top of 
Briggate, beyond the streets now known as Upper- 
head and Lowerhead Rows. He was one of the 
first of the great Leeds merchants of cloth, and 
doubtless added largely to his inherited fortune 
by his ventures in the first considerable days of 
the staple trade. But in addition to his wealth 
in lands and money, he had other wealth in his 
gifts of character and talent. He appears to have 
been the first townsman of his time, universally 
respected, looked up to, and much depended upon 

4 3 


in all practical matters relating to the government 
of the place. When, in 1626, the first charter 
was obtained from Charles L, and Sir John Savile 
was appointed Alderman, the real duties of the 
office were performed by Harrison, as his deputy. 
A few years later, he and six other wealthy towns- 
men combined to buy the manorial rights of Leeds 
from the Crown : about that time he built a Market 
Cross at his own cost. During the whole of his 
life he appears to have been always to the fore in 
all matters relative to the improvement of the 
municipal life of Leeds : he is named in the first 
Charter, and his name constantly occurs in all records 
between 1626 and his death thirty years later. 

It is somewhat difficult to find out which side 
Harrison really favoured when it came to a question 
of choosing sides between Zing and Parliament: 
if he was something of a wobbler, he was not the 
only Yorkshireman of note to be in such a pre- 
dicament. He himself, charged by the Parlia- 
mentarians with favouring the Royal cause, pointed 
to the fact that he had used " a strong hand " in 
checking certain movements in favour of the King. 
There is little doubt that he made a" money present 
to Charles I. when the "King was in Leeds, but that 
may have been no more than a mark of generous 
sympathy towards a man in sore need and trouble. 
It is more certain that Harrison lent money to tie 
Parliamentarians. Amongst the British Museum. 
MSS. is the following curious Memorandum, which 
throws some interesting light on certain features 
of that period : 

" WHEREAS by Ordinance of Parliament bearing 
date the 24"* day of November, 1642, The right 
honb 1 * Ferdinando L d Fairfax (or whom he should 



appoint Treasurer for that purpose) was enabled 
to engage the public faith of the Kingdom for all 
such Plate, Money, Armes and Horse as should be 
voluntarily lent or raysed for the service of the 
State in the Northern Counties, In pursuance of 
the said ordinance John Harrison of Leeds Esq., 
did in the yeare of our Lord 1642 furnish and lende 
the Sutne of fower score and Ten poundes in money 
and also on [? an] Horse and Armes, being valued 
at Twenty Poundes, in all amounting to the sume 
of One Hundred and Ten Poundes, the Publique 
Faith of the Nation is to bee engaged unto the 
said John Harrison. In Testimony whereof I have 
hereunto put my hand and seale. 

" W. Harrison, Treasurer, 
" app w by the s d I/ 

" Fairfax." 

Whether " the Publique Faith of the Nation " 
ever made good his money to Harrison we do not 
know, but he probably cared little whether his 
loan of cash, horse, and arms was repaid or not. 
He was in the life-long habit of giving, and he 
gave in many directions. Leeds in his time was a 
growing place ; it had many poor folk in it, and it 
was not much provided with hospitals for the sick 
and infirm amongst them. In 1643 one Jenkinson 
founded a hospital at Mill Hill : Harrison supple- 
mented this, ten years later, with a home for 
indigent poor. But this was one of his last public 
benefactions ; he had begun them or made his 
first notable addition to them in 1624, when he 
built a new home for the Grammar School first 
founded by William Sheafield. At that date the 




school was being taught in a building called New 
Chapel in Lady Lane : Harrison built a new home 
for it on a piece of his own property, on a site 
somewhere between the top of Briggate and Vicar 
Lane. That he was regarded within a short time 
after his death as a munificent patron of the 
Grammar School is proved by the fact that Ralph 
Thoresby speaks of him, in connection with it, 
as " the Grand Benefactor . . . never to be men- 
tioned without Honour, the ever famous John 

Harrison is kept in mind of all modern Leeds 
folk by his statue in City Square, but his real and 
abiding memorial is in his church of St. John at 
the head of Briggate, which he built and endowed 
and saw consecrated by Richard Neile, Archbishop 
of York, on September 21, 1634. An incident 
occurred at this consecration day which shows 
the peculiar temper of those times. At the morn- 
ing service the sermon was preached by John 
Cosin, then Archbishop's Chaplain and later Bishop 
of Durham ; in the afternoon, by the first incum- 
bent, Robert Todd, who was highly inclined to the 
Puritanical and Presbyterian notions. Todd made 
a fierce onslaught on tfie sermon to which he had 
listened in the morning. Neile immediately sus- 
pended him from his living for twelve months, and 
only forgave him at the direct intercession of 
founder Harrison and Sir Arthur Ingram. It is 
somewhat curious that no great beauty was at- 
tributed to St. John's in its youth nor, indeed, 
for a long time afterwards. Whitaker, in his 
" Loidis and Elmete " (1816 : a revised edition 
of Thoresby 's famous "Pucatus Leodiensis), goes 
out of his way to pour scorn upon it, declaring 

52 IvEEDS 

that it " has all the gloom and all the obstructions 
of an ancient church without one vestige of its 
dignity and grace." Such, however, is not the 
opinion of modern experts Mr. J. E. Morris, one 
of the best and most dependable of them, in his 
"West Riding of Yorkshire/' declares Harrison's 
church to be " a singularly interesting example 
though far less pure, of course, in its architecture 
than Wadham College Chapel of the last, faint 
flickering of the Gothic spirit ; it is interesting, 
also, as affording us, in its sumptuous fittings, a 
good example of the Laudian revival." St. John's 
is, indeed, the finest and most notable church in 
Leeds, far exceeding the parish church in interest 
and architecture, and it is difficult to believe that, 
some few years ago, the town authorities actually 
had it in mind to pull it down. The Philistine 
spirit, however, sad though it is to have to confess 
it, is mightily strong amongst Yorkshiremen. 

Ralph Thoresby was born two years after John 
Harrison died. His father was a well-known towns- 
man. He came of an ancient family, which in its 
time had included a great prelate amongst its 
members John Thoresby, successively Bishop of 
St. David's, Bishop of Worcester, Archbishop of 
York, Keeper of the Great Seal in the time 
of Edward III. Ralph Thoresby printed the gene- 
alogy of his family in his " Ducatus " : he lets us see 
that he was not a little proud of it. As to Ralph 
himself he was born an antiquary, lived an anti- 
quary, died an antiquary. Possessed for the 
greater part of his life of sufficient means, able all 
his life to devote himself to his favourite pursuits, 
he was perpetually investigating, searching, and 
collecting for his monumental works and his 


cherished museum. He travelled much : he was 
often in London : he covered a great deal of paper : 
he stored np things in his museum until it assumed 
considerable proportions : he was as devoted to 
the past as Monkbarns himself. But he was some- 
thing more than antiquary, topographer, and his- 
torian he was a shrewd, observant, critical-minded 
man of the world, a sound and devoted Churchman 
of a somewhat Tillotsonian sort, to be sure, and 
with a sneaking affection for a certain type of 
Nonconformist theology in which he had been 
trained before joining the Church and a very 
good citizen. Leeds owes much to him beyond 
her debt for his big books about her history and 
her vicars, for he not only left diaries in which he 
tells much of his own times and of the town as he 
knew it, but did practical things towards municipal 
improvement. It may be that few of the minor 
folk of Leeds in his time knew Mr. Thoresby as 
famous savant and Fellow of the Royal Society, 
but one supposes that most of them were well 
acquainted with him, first as a business man, then 
as a retired gentleman living pleasantly in a com- 
fortable mansion in Kirkgate, and, for a time at 
least, as a Town Councillor of the recently incor- 
porated borough. 

Thoresby was something of a Pepys in the 
keeping of his diaries not above putting down 
small things. Therefore we are indebted to him 
for certain odd glimpses in the Leeds life of his 
time. He tells us of the sylvan surroundings of 
the lower end of Kirkgate in his day, and that 
Alderman Cookson has erected a very pleasant 
seat with terraced walks in the Calls ; he records 
that on one February day, after perusing several 


authors concerning the British affairs under the 
Roman Conquests, he repaired to Madame 
Dawkrey's dancing school to occupy himself in 
learning new steps ; he gives a long, circumstantial 
account of Edward Preston, a Leeds butcher, 
famous as a runner, who could go twice round 
Chapel Town Moor (four miles) in fourteen minutes, 
and upon whose head as much as 3000 had been 
won in one race ; he tells how, in January, 1684, 
the Aire was so thickly frozen that he and Mr. 
T. B. walked, with others, from the mills below 
the old (parish) church, all up the main river, 
under the bridge, as far as the upper dam, on the 
ice the like having scarce or never been heard of. 
He tells how a House of Correction was built, 
which the lazy poor would look upon as a Domus 
supplicioum vel pcena, and that later part of it 
was converted into a Charity School for boys and 
girls who were taught to know and practise the 
Christian Religion, as well as to read, write, spin, 
sew, and knit, and who had a seat in the north 
side of the parish church where they all sat 
" decently cloathed in blue." He duly records the 
erection in Kirkgate of the new " Hall for White 
Clothes ... at near a Thousand Pounds charge 
by certain Merchants and Tradesmen in Town " 
he himself had not a little to do with the building 
of this eminently useful meeting-place. In 1713 
he tells how they celebrated the Peace of Utrecht 
at Leeds with a grand procession the constables 
of the town; the Mayor's son carrying a silk 
streamer ; the scholars on horseback ; the Common 
Council men in ( black gowns ; the Aldermen in 
theirs ; the Town Clerk ; the Sergeants, bearing 
their maces ; the Mayor in scarlet ; finally, the 



P- 54 


clergy, gentlemen, and merchants. That he was 
a true descendant of Pepys may be guessed from 
the following: "Mr. Thomas Bernard of Leedes 
was 50 years old when he married, had 18 children, 
and was so brisk that he rid a Hunting when he 
was above an Hundred years of age ... he could 
then read without spectacles." 

Thoresby was a great traveller, had many 
learned correspondents, and in his time knew many 
great and notable men. He visited Holland 
in his youth, but his subsequent wanderings were 
confined to Great Britain, generally in search of 
rarities and inscriptions. He visited Durham, 
Northumberland, Scotland, Lancashire, Cheshire, 
Windsor, Oxford, Cambridge; he was familiar 
with many places in the Midlands, and he rode to 
all parts of his native county. But the favourite 
of his travel resorts was lyondon he was con- 
stantly there, dining and breakfasting with bishops, 
deans, scientists, literary men, scholars, 'and alumni 
of all sorts. When in I/ondon he was a great hand 
at hearing sermons : his records of sermons and 
services from his youthful Nonconformist days to 
those in which he was a confirmed Churchman 
are multitudinous. A good Christian, he was 
somewhat of a bigot he mentions with horror 
that being in Pontefract, he looked into a " mass- 
house" there, and heard a priest preach a very 
good sermon on the dangers of keeping bad com- 
pany, which, he says, he took as being very 
seasonable to himself, he having never been in 
such bad company before. However, he had very 
good company amongst his various correspondents 
men like Gibson, Gale, Walker, d# la Pryme, 
lister, Evelyn, exchanged regular letters with 


him ; his own in reply are full of much rare in- 

It is a profound pity that Thoresby's collection 
of curiosities and rarities was not bought by the 
authorities of Leeds at the time of his death. 
Thoresby himself left it, entire, to his eldest son, 
Dr. Thoresby, rector of Stoke Newington, upon whose 
death, some years later, it was sold by auction 
at the Exhibition Room in Spring Gardens, Charing 
Cross. The sale catalogue filled twenty pages. 
There were certainly a good many objects which 
were merely curious such as, for instance, the 
reputed hand and arm of the Marquis of Montrose, 
and a Hairy Ball taken from the stomach of a 
Calf, and a Sea-Tortoise brought from the Isle of 
Ascension but there was a fine gathering of gold 
and silver coins and medals, Roman, British, and 
Saxon ; a quantity of lead and pewter medals ; a 
large collection of tracts (twelve volumes of these 
related to Leeds itself) and of autograph letters 
from men like Hans Sloane, Boyle, Flamstead, 
Halley, Wren, Steele, Strype, Hearne ; a number 
of manuscripts, and a special collection of objects 
"relating to the Romish Superstition," including 
a Bull of Pope Innocent VI. for the induction of 
William Donke into the Vicarage of Rotherham, 
dated from Avignon in 1361. Thoresby also pos- 
sessed the great stone salt-cellar of Kirkstall Abbey, 
with eight triangular salts round the stem and a 
hollow at the top for a silver one. There were 
also amulets, charms, images, and a large quantity 
of bricks and objects in glass, jet, and pottery. 
There was at least one Roman altar and there were 
several urns. Everything was dispersed; a good 
deal of the collection, indeed, had been thrown 


away as valueless before it reached the auction- 
room, and much of what was shown there was 
scoffed at as rubbish and trampled underfoot. 
But it would have been well if the whole could have, 
been preserved to our times, in the state in which 
its collector left it, to be handed over to the care 
of the Thoresby Society which was founded in 
I^eeds thirty years ago, whose members have done 
such good work on the lines which Thoresby him* 
self first indicated. 


r "T^HERE are many trades and manufactures in 
Jl modern Leeds a list of them assumes 
considerable proportions but from early Tudor 
times to the end of the eighteenth century there 
was but one of real note, the trade which is still 
paramount in spite of the development of many 
others the trade in woollen cloths. When the 
sale of cloth first began in Leeds it is somewhat 
difficult to make out with any degree of certainty, 
but weaving had doubtless been introduced into 
the West Riding of Yorkshire during the reign of 
Edward III., to whom is usually attributed the 
introduction of woollen manufacture into England. 
But this is a mistake Edward's share was a much 
needed revival of an ancient; industry. The manu- 
facture of wool into cloth was first practised in 
this country by the Romans : they had one large 
factory at Winchester, and they had others in 
Yorkshire. There was much spinning and weaving 
in Anglo-Saxon times even ladies of high rank 
practised these arts. Numbers of Flemish weavers 
came into the country with William the Conqueror, 
chiefly settling about Norwich ; it was in Norfolk, 
Suffolk, and Essex that the weavers brought over 
from Flanders by Edward III. made their fixed 
habitations. In course of time, the making 
of woollen goods spread to Gloucestershire and 



Devonshire, and eventually to tlie country on either 
side of the Pennine Range which afforded abundant 
pasture for vast flocks of sheep and a plentiful 
supply of pure water for cleansing purposes.^ Before 
the beginning of the Tudor era the woollen industry 
of the West Riding had assumed considerable pro- 
portions, and towns like Halifax, Huddersfidd, and 
Bradford began to increase greatly. Doubtless the 
work of the Cistercians, who were great sheep- 
farmers (Fountains usually possessed thousands of 
sheep, which were principally shorn at a regular 
sheering place set up at Kifnsey, in Wharfedale, 
and Bolton Priory had a flock of between 2000 and 
3000 at the time of the Dissolution), helped towards 
the development of the wool industry, and the cloth 
woven from the KLirkstall fleeces may have been the 
first offered for sale in Leeds. The records are 
scanty, but we do know that by the time Iceland 
came to the town, the cloth market was firmly 
established on the bridge over the Aire at the foot 
of Briggate, where vendors and purchasers met 
at stated times and under certain market rules. 

But whence came the cloth there? Not from 
mills and factories, but from the lonely farmsteads 
and cottages of the sparsely populated dales and 
moorlands in the neighbourhood. The fabrics 
brought to Leeds in those days were essentially 
of home manufacture; the result of handicraft. 
In every house and cottage there was the spinning 
wheel and the hand-loom. All the processes- 
save, perhaps, dyeing and fulling were done by 
the folk themselves. The sheep were shorn at 
home ; the fleece was picked free of rubbish and 
sorted ; it was carded or combed carded if it was 
intended for woollen, combed if for worsted by 


primitive, but presumably satisfactory, methods. 
Then it was spun into yarn the old wheel and 
distaff came in here. Thence it passed to the 
weaver, whose hand-loom, with its shuttle cast 
from one hand to the other, was so narrow, neces- 
sarily, that no length of cloth offered on Leeds 
Bridge in the old days would exceed some twenty- 
eight inches in width. Then it was fulled; they 
did that at first by walking on the cloth (trampling 
on it in shallow troughs), hence our surname 
Walker : there was a Walker =fuller, in an obscure 
hamlet near Pontefract at the time of the Poll 
Tax of 1379, showing that fulling was carried on 
in very small places even then. Eventually fulling 
began to be done by machinery, and there seems to 
have been a fulling-mill at Leeds before the year 
1400. After that was done came in the use of 
teazles, which were dragged over the surface of 
the cloth to raise a nap. Teazles were grown in 
large quantities for this purpose in the West Riding 
until elaborate mechanical contrivances superseded 
their use. And then the lengths of cloth were 
dyed, and ready for sale. Nearly all this work 
was home process. But there is a distinction to 
be made between woollens and worsteds. Woollens 
were made from beginning to end by the small 
producer : worsteds by spinners and weavers to 
whom it had been entrusted by an intermediate, 
the wool-stapler, who had previously bought his 
raw material from the growers of wool, the sheep- 
breeder or farmer. With worsteds, however, 
Leeds has never had much to do : Bradford is 
the capital of that industry : Leeds of woollen 
goods. And we may accordingly say with safety 
that the cloth which was exposed for sale in the 


Leeds market of the old days, whether on Leeds 
Bridge, to begin with, or in what Thoresby on one 
occasion calls the " Broad Street " (i.e. the lower 
end of Briggate), or in the halls which eventually 
came to be opened, was handicraft work, fashioned 
with the old primitive appliances of wheel, distaff, 
and loom which are so ancient that no man knows 
when human ingenuity first devised them. 

It is not difficult to reconstruct the scene which 
might be viewed on the old bridge at Leeds on 
the market mornings. A man who had cloth to 
sell, woven at his own hand-loom, would set off, 
his goods on his own back, or, if they were too heavy 
for that, on his pony's, from some lonely spot in 
the dales, or neighbouring village possibly the 
night before, certainly in the very small hours. 
He would find more vendors, like to himself, at 
the bridge. At first they spread their wares on 
the parapet of that ancient and narrow structure ; 
a little later on trestles set in the gutters. There 
was, of course, much crowding in so small a space ; 
complaints began to be heard of, leading eventu- 
ally to the leaving of the bridge and the trans- 
ference of the market to the wider street. The 
seller would stand by his cloth till he got a buyer, 
and there would doubtless be some bargaining and 
chattering. When he had sold his goods he would 
put his money in his pocket and set out homeward, 
to make more cloth. But he would need to refresh 
himself, and there was good provision made for 
him. In those early days, and right into the 
eighteenth century, the publicans whose houses 
adjoined the bridge provided meals which were 
known far and wide amongst the clothing fraternity 
of sellers and buyers as Brig-End Shots. What 


they were Ralph Thoresby himself tells us in 
his "Ducatus." About 1710 he was visited on 
one occasion by Archdeacon (afterwards Bishop) 
Nicholson, who brought with him his cousin, Arch- 
deacon Pearson. Thoresby showed them his col- 
lections and his museum, and then took them to the 
cloth market, after which he treated them and 
himself to the famous refection which was doubtless 
being well patronized at the time by the humbler 
folk from the adjacent dales. "The Brig-End 
Shots," he writes, " have made as great a noise 
among the vulgar, where the Clothier may, together 
with his Pot of Ale, have a Noggin of Porrage, 
and a Trencher of either Boil'd or Roast , Beef for 
Two-pence, as the Market itself." Accordingly, 
Thoresby and his two Archdeacons lunched that 
day for sixpence all told. 

Of the aspect of the Leeds cloth market at a 
somewhat later period, when it had been removed 
from the bridge itself to the wider spaces of Brig- 
gate, there is a very interesting and accurate account 
given by Daniel Defoe, who, in the early years 
of the eighteenth century, spent much time in 
travelling about the Yorkshire clothing districts. 
"Early in the morning/' he writes, "tressels are 
placed in two rows in the street, sometimes two 
rows on a side, across which boards are laid, which 
make a kind of temporary counter on either side 
from one end of the street to the other. The clothiers 
come early in the morning with their cloth, and as 
few bring more than one piece, the market days 
being so frequent, they go into the irm$ and 
public-houses with it and there set it down. At 
about six; o'clock in the summer and about seven 
in the winter, the clothiers being all come by that 


M "** 

o * 


w ! 



time, the market bell at the old chapel by the 
bridge rings ; upon which it would surprise a 
stranger to see in how few minutes, without hurry, 
noise, or the least disorder, the whole market is 
filled and all the boards upon the tressels covered 
with cloth so close one another as the pieces can 
lie long ways, each proprietor standing behind his 
own piece, who form a mercantile regiment, as it 
were, drawn up in a double line in as great order 
as a military one. As soon as the bell has ceased 
ringing, the factors and buyers of all sorts enter 
the market and walk up and down between the 
rows as their occasion direct. Some of them have 
their foreign letters of orders with patterns on 
them in their hands, the colours of which they 
match by holding them to the cloths they think 
they agree with. When they have pitched upon 
their cloth they lean over to the clothier and by a 
whisper in the fewest words imaginable the price 
is stated : one asks, the other bids, and they agree 
or disagree in a moment ... in a little more than 
an hour all the business is done/' He mentions 
also that at this time Leeds traders were wont to 
go all over the country carrying large stocks of 
cloth on pack-horses, and selling it on credit to 
the shops, and that already an export trade had 
been begun with foreign countries. 

At various times since the manufacture of 
woollen goods began to be encouraged by Edward 
III. stringent laws have been passed for its pro- 
tection. That monarch himself (who did not a 
little private trading in wool and on one occasion 
made an enormous profit out of a single trans- 
action) prohibited the export of wool from England 
to Flanders, and the prohibition remained in force 


until the accession of Queen Elizabeth, when it 
was removed only to be reinforced in 1660 and to 
remain so until 1825* Yet, in spite of this, there 
must have been some such export, for in 1742 the 
Leeds Corporation made a formal protest against 
conveying raw wool from Great Britain and Ireland 
to foreign countries. One of the most curious 
attempts to protect and encourage the woollen 
trade was the passing of an Act of Parliament in 
1666 which ordered that henceforth all dead folk 
should be interred in shrouds of wool and between 
this Act and the Thoresbys of Leeds there is an 
interesting connection, for John Thoresby, father 
of the famous topographer, was buried in non- 
compliance with its conditions. The Act of 1666, 
like many other Acts of Parliament, did not con- 
tain any provision for enforcement of its enact- 
ments. But in 1678 a supplementary Act was 
passed, which required an affidavit to be made 
on the occasion of every interment, certifying that 
the law of 1666 had been -complied with all such 
affidavits were to be noted in the parish register 
hence the entries which one finds "buryed in 
woollen/' If eight days elapsed without an affi- 
davit having been made, the clergyman concerned 
was bound to notify churchwardens or overseers of 
the omission, and they were then to take measures 
for the enforcing of a fine of five pounds against 
the offending parties. When John Thoresby was 
interred in 1679 at Leeds parish church, no affi- 
davit was recorded, but the register contains the 
notice of omission, and his executors were doubtless 
fined in accordance with the law. 

Ralph Thoresby himself was actively engaged 
in the foundation of the first covered cloth-market 


which Leeds possessed. The town had rivals in 
the cloth trade Wakefield, Halifax, Huddersfield, 
Bradford and at Wakefield in 1710 there was 
built a cloth hall which seemed likely to attract 
to its greater conveniences the clothiers who were 
in the habit of frequenting the open-air market 
in Leeds. On August 14, 1710, Thoresby writes : 
" Rode with the Mayor, cousin Milner, and others, 
to my Lord Irwin [this was the 3rd Viscount Irwin, 
who had inherited the neighbouring seat of Temple 
Newsam and the Manor of Leeds from the Ingram 
family] about the erection of a hall for the white 
cloths in Kirkgate, to prevent the damage to this 
town by one lately erected at Wakefield, with 
design to engross that affair, which is computed to 
bring about one hundred tradesmen every market- 
day to this town, which that would utterly prevent 
for the future if permitted. His Lordship gave 
all the encouragement imaginable." With Viscount 
Irwin's approval a title was obtained to "an old 
ruinous Hospital of an uncertain tenure and foun- 
dations " in Kirkgate, and on its site the White Cloth 
Hall was erected in the following year May 22, 
1711. It is described by Thoresby in the 
" Ducatus." Sixty-five years later it was given 
up, and the merchants in white cloths departed 
to a more pretentious hall built in the Calls ; this 
served until the railways came in and wanted 
space, and was then abandoned for the modern 
hall which was built on a part of the grounds of 
the old Infirmary. In 1758 a mixed or coloured 
cloth hall was built near Mill Hill there is an 
interesting account of it in the account of Leeds 
which is given in Hargrove's well-known " History of 
Knaresborough." It was a quadrangular building 


enclosing an open area. It was 128 yards long 
and 66 wide : divided into six compartments, each 
containing two rows of stands : every stand was 
twenty-two inches in front and bore the name 
of the clothier to whom it belonged. There were 
1800 stands in all : and they were originally let 
at three guineas, but, says Hargrove, they had 
been let at as much as 24. There were strict 
regulations as regards the hours of trading. The 
hall was opened at half-past eight in summer and 
half an hour later in winter by the ringing of a 
bell a few minutes later, merchants and manu- 
facturers began their trading. At the end of one 
hour afterwards, another ringing of the bell an- 
nounced the approaching close of the market ; 
fifteen minutes later, another ringing closed busi- 
ness for the day. Each seller then left the hall, 
on pain of a fine of five shillings for every five 
minutes that he stayed in it after the ringing of 
the last bell. There were similar regulations in 
the White Cloth Hall they were intended, as is 
evident, to promote regularity, punctuality, and 
expedition. The White Cloth market opened 
when the Coloured market closed : strangers were 
permitted to enter both and to watch the pro- 
ceedings, but no clothier could take a stand unless 
he had served his apprenticeship to the trade. 
Many people now living in I^eeds can remember 
both these halls the White Cloth Hall was sold 
only twenty-three years ago as a site for the Hotel 
Metropole; the Coloured Cloth Hall was pulled 
down in 1889 to make way for the General Post 
Office. Each was a notable, if ugly, landmark of 
a I^eeds that was already fast on its way to dis- 


DURING the eighteenth century Leeds was not 
greatly concerned with such alarums and 
excursions as it had known in that January day in 
1643, when Fairfax drove Savile and his fellow- 
loyalists out of the town and across the river. 
True, in 1745, it saw something of military life and 
of possible battle. General Wade, charged with 
the duty of preventing the southward advance of 
the Young Pretender, encamped his army in the 
neighbourhood of Sheepscar and Woodhouse for 
some time during the winter of that year, and that 
military operations were expected is proved by the 
fact that many Leeds people fled the town, some 
of them first buying their valuables in secure 
hiding-places . But during this hundred years 
a period of prevalent dullness and drabness all over 
England Leeds was chiefly concerned .with its 
own domestic affairs. It was growing. Macaulay, 
reckoning its population from the hearth-money 
returns, estimates that in 1685 its population was 
not less than seven thousand. It had probably 
doubled by 1750 ; in 1775 it was about 17,000. 
During the last quarter of the century it increased 
by leaps and bounds, and when the first census was 
taken in 1801 it was 53,000. 

Between the end of the Stuart period and the 


middle of the Georgian era nothing was so much 
improved in England as the means of communica- 
tion between one place and another. We of this 
day can scarcely conceive the isolation of the 
various settlements and communities of the old days : 
men were born, they lived, they died in one place, 
knowing little of the outside world save by rumour 
which had much of the legendary in it. There 
was no penny post, no cheap telegram ; there were 
no roads worthy the name, no canals, no railways. 
It was as serious a business to go from Leeds to 
Bradford nine miles as it now is to travel from 
Leeds to Edinburgh. Whitaker says, in his " Loidis 
and Elmete," that up to 1753 the roads in the 
neighbourhood of Leeds were no more than hollow 
ways, of the width of a mere ditch, just permitting 
the passage of a single vehicle ; on one side was an 
elevated causeway, covered with flag-stones or 
boulders. Along these causeways the merchandise 
of the district was carried on the backs of horses 
the pack-horse, indeed, was as familiar in York- 
shire and Lancashire as railways are now : at 
many of the wayside inns pack-horses were kept 
for hire. Matters certainly improved as regards 
transit and communication between the end of 
Charles II. 's reign and the beginning of George III.'s 
the goods waggon and the stage-coach came into 
being. Of the early stage-coaches, Thoresby has 
much to tell in his Diary. He mentions a coach 
which ran between York and Hull in 1679 I <& 
another that did the twenty-four miles' journey 
between York and Leeds in eight hours. Later, 
the increasing trade of Leeds brought in a service 
of goods waggons which became organized into 
a good and dependable system ; these waggons 


made the journey between Leeds and London in 
thirty-six hours, passing through the principal towns 
of the Midlands, and the service was daily ; there 
were also stage-coaches for passenger traffic which 
eventually did the same journey in twenty hours. 
But by that time the roads had been much im- 
proved chiefly, as far as Yorkshire was concerned, 
by the extraordinary achievements of John Metcalf, 
better known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough, 
who, in spite of his life-long infirmity, built thousands 
of miles of fine highway in Yorkshire and Lancashire. 
One local specimen of his work is the road between 
Leeds and Chapeltown ; another that between 
Harrogate and Harewood. And before his time 
the Turnpike trusts had come in and were improving 
the roads not without much opposition. In 1753 
a carter refused to pay toll at Beeston turnpike, 
was carried before the authorities in Leeds, and 
rescued from them by the mob ; thereupon a riot 
ensued between populace and soldiery which resulted 
in the deaths of eight people. But the roads 
continued to improve ; the existence of the toll- 
bar came to be regarded with equanimity, and there 
are many folk living, and not much above middle-age, 
who remember when these old-world institutions 
were much in evidence in this part of Yorkshire. 

With the linking together of the towns by means 
of much improved roads came, in the last half 
of the eighteenth century, another scarcely less 
important method of communication by water. 
There had been a certain amount of river trade in 
Yorkshire for some time: York, far away up the 
Ouse, had been regarded as a port ; there was a 
considerable trade on the Ure, as far as Borough- 
bridge and Ripon ; there was some trade on the 


Aire itself. But it was not until the half-century 
had been passed, and Brindley had built the famous 
Bridgewater Canal between Manchester and the 
Duke of Bridgewater's coal-pits at Worsley, that 
the possibilities of water-transit seem to have struck 
the merchants and commercial men. England, 
indeed, had been curiously indifferent to the value 
of a system which had already found much favour 
in Italy and France, and had been in existence in 
Eastern countries for many centuries. But when 
the eccentric Duke and his scarcely less eccentric 
engineer had shown what could be done and in 
face of great difficulties in Lancashire, Yorkshire 
business men took up the idea, and the first result 
was the making of the great canal between Leeds and 
Liverpool, the entire course of which was surveyed 
by Brindley himself about 1765-6. The necessary 
Act of Parliament was obtained in 1768-9, and the 
directors offered the post of engineer to Brindley, 
but he was at that time so much occupied in other 
parts of the country that he was obliged to decline 
their offer. This highly important waterway, 130 
miles in length, linking up Leeds and Bradford, 
with Wigan and Liverpool, and passing through 
many smaller centres of trade in Yorkshire and 
Lancashire, was not fully completed until 1816, 
but various portions of it were finished and in use 
forty years previously. 

While the town was rendered more easily 
approachable and leavable by means of im- 
proved roads and the new canal system, the au- 
thorities were not slow to improve it internally. 
An Act of Parliament for the lighting and paving 
of the streets was obtained in 1755 ; in 1791, the 
town was lighted with oil. The names of streets 


wliicli are now household words began to emerge 
at this period : about the same time some of the 
ancient landmarks begin to disappear. In Briggate 
there was then what was known as Middle Row, 
an obstructing block of buildings, with narrow 
alleys on either side, known as the Shambles. At 
its lower end stood the Moot Hall ; it had a new 
front given to it in 1710. Near it were such time- 
honoured institutions as the Common Bakehouse, 
the Prison, the Pillory, the Stocks. From purely 
archaeological reasons one wishes they were still 
there, but in course of time they disappear before 
the ruthless utilitarian spirit. Other features gradu- 
ally arise. Mill Hill is in evidence as far back as 
1672, when a chapel is erected there. Park Place 
begins to be mentioned before 1780 ; Park Square 
by 1793 ; Albion Street seems to have been in some 
sort of existence by 1792. Boar Lane, which had 
been the Park Lane of an earlier age, having in it 
many elegant seats of gentlemen town-houses of 
the Yorkshire country squires was a narrow street 
in 1727, and remained of a mean sort for more than 
a century afterwards. In Thoresby's days, it had 
delightful gardens. about and behind it : there is a 
record of a snake having been caught in one of 
these gardens in 1773. 

The social improvement of any town may best 
be estimated by finding out what was done for the 
poorer folk by the authorities. As usual, every- 
thing that was done in Leeds in the beginning came 
from private charity in the eighteenth century 
we were still a long way off from that temper of 
mind which insists that the State or the Corporation 
has some duties other than the collection of taxes. 
In feeds' Josiah Jenkinson set an example by 


founding almshouses for aged and poor folk in 
1643 : his beneficiaries had 5 each per annum. 
John Harrison's Hospital provided a comfortable 
asylum for between sixty and seventy old women, 
each of whom received, in addition to lodging, 
fifty shillings a quarter. In 1737 one Mr. Potter 
founded almshouses for the widows of deceased 
Leeds tradesmen: each widow received twelve 
guineas a year. Eighteen years previously, another 
Leeds woman, Mrs. Dixon, founded a charity for 
the benefit of the widows of Leeds clergymen. 
But the great and all-important charitable work of 
the eighteenth century in Leeds was the founding 
of the Infirmary, which was opened for patients 
in 1767. It owed its origin to William Hey, a Leeds 
man who embraced medicine as his profession and 
made philanthropy his hobby- Its first provision was 
one of twelve beds, and within four years from its 
foundation it had spent just over 2000 in the relief 
of the sick : in the year 1900 it possessed 440 beds 
and it laid out ^32,773. Since that first humble 
beginning, Leeds Infirmary up to 1916 has dealt 
with 256,207 in-patients, and 953,500 out-patients, 
and has spent on them ^872,159 all given by 
voluntary subscription. 

But what of the very poor folk the paupers ? 
In 1629, Richard Sykes, Esquire, alderman of the 
borough, founded an institution which one chronicler 
euphemistically calls an "Asylum for Poverty." 
The word " asylum " has various meanings attached 
to it one fears that the Leeds paupers were not 
regarded as being much other than nuisances 
until comparatively recent times. Some years 
ago, a member of a Leeds Board of Guardians who 
evidently possessed an antiquarian turn of mind, 


searched the records of the Board which he then 
administered, and copied out certain extracts which 
showed that between 1750 and 1780 paupers 
accommodated in the Asylums for Poverty had 
anything but a pleasant life. They were frequently 
beaten. The whip was much in use for recalcitrant 
females, even for old women. Inmates who had 
not on Sunday presented themselves at a Protestant 
place of worship where else they could have gone 
in those days it is difficult to conjecture were 
condemned to forfeiture of their poor dinners. 
Obviously, the poor were considered to be little 
better, if at all better, than criminals. As to 
criminals and their treatment in I^eeds we know 
something from John Howard, who says of I/eeds 
Town Gaol that it consisted of " four rooms fronting 
the street, 12 feet by 9, and a smaller one," and 
that "two deserters lately escaped by filing the 
bars. Since [that] the windows are double-barred, 
so that no files can be conveyed to the prisoners " 
(" The State of Prisons/' 414). 

But in spite of curious notions common to 
everybody, generally speaking, in those unen- 
lightened days as to how paupers and prisoners 
should be treated, I/eeds saw many improvements 
and steps towards progress in the eighteenth cen- 
tury. For one thing, new churches began to lift 
their spires or, at any rate, their roofs not 
always in architecturally artistic fashion. In 1727, 
mainly through the instrumentality of I/ady Eliza- 
beth Hastings, who did much for higher education 
in Yorkshire by founding the well-known Hastings 
Exhibitions at Queen's College, Oxford, Holy 
Trinity in Boar I^ane was opened ; in 1793 St. 
Paul's in Park Square was built. By the end of 


the century, then, Leeds liad four churches. Mean- 
while the various bodies of Dissenters had not been 
idle. As far back as 1672 the Presbyterians had 
opened a meeting-house in Mill Hill ; it was closed 
in 1682 and reopened five years later. Of this 
congregation, which became Unitarian, the famous 
Joseph Priestley, scientist and philosopher, was 
minister from 1767 to 1773. In 1691 a chapel of 
the Independents was opened; eight years later 
the Quakers built a meeting-house in Water Lane. 
In 1742 John Wesley was preaching in Leeds ; 
in 1751 his followers built their first chapel ; in 
1797 the seceders of the Methodist New Connexion 
went apart. In 1779 the first chapel of the Baptists 
was erected ; and in 1790 the first Roman Catholic 
church was opened in Lady Lane. In 1794 that 
curiously shaped fabric afterwards known as St. 
James's Church was opened in York Street : it 
was then a chapel of the Countess of Huntingdon's 
Connexion ; later, " being purchased by a clergyman 
of the Established Church," says an old chronicler 
of the period, " it was duly consecrated by the 
Archbishop of this Province " for Leeds was still 
in the archdiocese of York. So where the Leeds 
folk began the century with three principal places 
of worship, they wound it up with quite a number, 
and of quite a variety in the matters of faith and 

There were dther steps towards progress and 
civilization in Leeds during the eighteenth century. 
The newspaper made its appearance. In 1718 
the Leeds Mercury was founded by James Lister 
as a sheet of twelve small pages, printed in very 
large type, and sold at three half-pence. Oddly 
enough, it at first contained very little local news 


it was largely made up in the paste-and-scissors 
fashion from the London journals. In 1755 it 
came to a stop, only to be revived by one Bowling 
in 1767 : in 1794 he sold it to two partners named 
Binns and Brown, and at that time it then being 
a weekly publication it had a circulation of 3000 
copies. In 1801 it was bought by Edward Baines, 
and in the hands of the Baines family it remained 
for a hundred years, becoming a tri-weekly in 1855, 
and a daily in 1861, and attaining a foremost 
position amongst provincial newspapers. From, say, 
1850 it was one of the leading Liberal organs in 
England, and of vast weight with North Country- 
men of Radical tendencies. Meanwhile, in 1754, 
the forerunner of the Mercury's great rival, the 
"Yorkshire Post, was started under the title of the 
Leeds Intelligencer. Its founder was a Mr. Griffith 
Wright, whose successors eventually sold it to 
Messrs. Hernaman and Perring. It began its daily 
career as the Yorkshire Post in 1866, and under the 
successive editorships of three great journalists, the 
late Charles Pebody, the late H. J. Palmer, and 
Mr. J, S. R. Phillips, has come to rank with the 
Scotsman, the Glasgow Herald, the Manchester 
Guardian, and the Birmingham Daily Post, as 
the five leading papers published out of London, 
In addition to libraries, books began to be in 
evidence the now famous Leeds Library was 
started at a bookshop in Kirkgate in 1768, Dr. 
Priestley being its first secretary. Print and paper 
doubtless helped to improve the manners and morals 
of eighteenth-century Leeds at any rate, William 
Wilberforce, making a note in his diary as regards 
Public Morality in 1796, writes, "Dr. Percival 
thinks . . . the manners of Leeds remarkably frugal, 


sober, and commercial. None of the merchants 
spend money, and it would be discreditable to 
attend public places." There is a certain note of 
priggishness about this, and it might have been 
well if the merchants had attended public places 
and had spent money amongst their poorer fellow- 
townsfolk. For at that time the working classes 
in Leeds were very badly housed, and ill-paid, and 
ill-fed, and the eighteenth century wound up there 
with serious Bread Biots. 


DURING the last thirty yeais of the eighteenth 
century extraordinary changes were taking 
place with startling rapidity in the industrial 
centres of England, and especially in those dis- 
tricts, like the West Riding of Yorkshire and the 
south-eastern part of Lancashire, where textile 
fabrics were made. The day of the old handi- 
craftsman, who wrought at home in his house on 
the moors or his cottage in the dales, and carried 
his work to market once or twice a week, was coming 
to an end. Machines, rather than men, were to 
be the all-important things a man was only to 
be of value in relation to a machine. The old- 
fashioned hand-loom, which would only turn out 
pieces of cloth of a strictly limited width, was to 
yield place to the new mechanical inventions which 
could enable fabrics of any length and width to be 
manufactured in surprising quantity. The first 
innovations came in respect to cotton. The in- 
ventions of Kay at one time a resident in Leeds 
of Hargreaves, of Arkwright, and of Crompton in 
relation to flying shuttles, spinning machines, and 
looms, revolutionized the cotton trade of Manchester 
before the century was over. These inventions 
were first introduced into the woollen trade by a 
well-known Leeds family, the Gotts. As machines 



multiplied, tlie factory came into existence men 
no longer worked in their own houses but in herds 
in the grim, ugly buildings which sprang up in all 
the Yorkshire valleys where motive power was to 
be found in the watercourses which poured down 
the rugged hillsides. New features of industrial 
life showed themselves. Not only men poured 
into the factories, but women as well, and in time 
even young children. Hence arose the Factory 
system which for many years of the eighteenth 
and for nearly one-half of the nineteenth centuries 
was a disgrace to English civilization. 

But the new machines and the new system would 
never have made the speedy headway which was 
so quickly on both had it not been for the introduc- 
tion of steam as a motive power. Man had been 
experimenting with steam for ages, but never 
with any success worth considering until James 
Watt invented his first engine, and his successors, 
who were many, improved upon his notions. Steam 
was first applied to the pumping engines in coal- 
mines, then to the paddle-wheels of boats ; before 
the end of the eighteenth century it was in con- 
siderable use in the factories. Certain factory- 
owners of Leeds, the Gotts, Wormalds, and Marshalls 
in particular, appear to have seen its possibilities 
at a very early period, and to have introduced it 
into their works. Arthur Young, the famous 
agricultural expert, who travelled widely over the 
country in George III.'s reign, says that, when he 
was at Leeds in 1796, there were at least eight 
steam-engines working in the woollen mills. At 
Marshall's flax mill at Holbeck one of Savery's 
steam-engines was at work in 1791 ; in 1792 one of 
Watt and Boulton's 28-horse-power engines was 


introduced, and in the following year nearly a thou- 
sand flax-spindles were being run by steam at this 
factory alone. Leeds, indeed, was very much to 
the front in the use of steam. It was the first 
place in England in which a steam locomotive was 
used for railway traffic. In the time of George II. 
there was, at the Middleton Colliery, a little way 
out of the town, a tramway laid down, on which ran 
waggons drawn by horses ; in 1812 a steam-engine 
was introduced which could draw 140 tons weight 
of coal at the rate of three and a half miles an hour. 
In the following year a steamboat was in use on 
the river Aire ; but another twenty years had gone 
before Leeds saw its first steam railway engine. 

With the increase in machinery and the intro- 
duction of steam as motive power, a number of 
new industries sprang up in Leeds. Until the 
middle of the eighteenth century the woollen cloth 
industry may be said to have monopolized the 
townsfolk's energies, but by 1800 various new manu- 
factures and trades were in being. Pottery began 
to be manufactured in considerable quantity in 
1760. The well-known family of Marshall, after 
beginning the spinning of flax by machinery at 
Scotland Mill, a few miles out of the town, set up 
flax and linen mills at Holbeck, whereat in time 
vast numbers of hands were employed a fine 
memorial of this family exists in the beautiful 
church at Holbeck erected by one of its members 
at a later period. But the great feature of Leeds 
industrial life in the early years of the nineteenth 
century, outside its staple trade of woollen doth 
manufacture, was its machinery not merely as 
regards use, but in making. Nowadays Leeds is 
one of the chief machine-manufacturing cities in 


the world. It sends out machinery and imple- 
ments of all sorts, from gigantic locomotives down 
to the smallest articles, to all quarters of the globe. 
This development may be said to have begun when 
one Peter Fairbairn, a man of great skill, energy, 
and foresight, came to Leeds in 1828 and began 
a singularly successful career. But he developed 
what was already in existence. Thirty years 
before his coming, a mechanic, Matthew Murray, 
came into Leeds one night, on foot and penniless, 
to lay the foundations of a trade which has since 
assumed gigantic proportions, Murray at once 
obtained employment at Marshall's mills ; later, 
he went into partnership with two men named 
Penton and Wood as engineers; he introduced 
machinery widely in Leeds ; he was responsible 
for the steam-locomotive (an improvement on 
Trevithick's well-known engine) at Middleton 
Colliery. He was a remarkable man, and did 
great things for Leeds ; but Peter Fairbairn was the 
true pioneer of machine-making in the town. Be- 
ginning in very humble fashion in a small room in 
Lady Lane, with only two assistants, Fairbairn 
before many years were over had started the famous 
Wellington Foundry, whereat in course of time 
thousands of hands came to be employed. This 
was only the first of a number of other foundries 
and machine-making shops. Iron began to be 
worked in the immediate district, at Kirkstall 
and at Farnley, close by ; at Low Moor and at 
Bowling, not very far away. Iron was therefore 
plentiful, and the opening out of the great Yorkshire 
coalfield, extending from Leeds to Barnsley, made 
fuel abundant. Other folks followed in Peter Fair- 
bairn's wake. The history of industrial Leeds during 


the nineteenth centttxy is written in the archives and 
account books of the Zitsons, the Taylors, the 
kawsons, the Greenwoods. By 1857, when James 
Kitson read a paper on this matter to the British 
Association meeting at lyeeds, he was able to say 
that eleven thousand hands were being employed 
in the iron and kindred trades of the town. 

It was necessary that, with all this development 
of trade, there should be improvement in the means 
of communication. Coal and iron are not to be 
carried on the backs of pack-horses, nor can heavy 
machinery be easily transported on waggons. The 
canal system was eagerly welcomed by the North 
Country manufacturers and pioneers, few, if any, 
of whom were able to look a few years ahead and 
see the coming of the railways and their steam- 
propelled locomotives. The usefulness of the canal 
as a means of convenient transit was unquestion- 
able : William Jessop, a well-known engineer, 
declared in 1804 that " one horse upon a canal is 
capable of doing the work of fifty horses upon a 
road." And that canals were splendidly paying 
properties was soon proved by the case of the 
Duke of Bridgewater, who, in face of severe natural 
and financial difficulties, built his canals at a cost 
of 220,000 and was ere long realizing an annual 
income of 80,000 from them in dues and tolls. 
By 1790 a vast canal system had come into exist- 
ence; of its benefit to the coasting trade some 
idea may be gained from the fact that in 1760 the 
tonnage cleared out of English ports was 470,000 
tons ; in 1790, 1,380,000. Naturally, what hap- 
pened in the case of the railways, happened in the 
case of the canals. In 1790 began the canal mania. 
Single shares in companies reached preposterous 



figures a Leicester share touched 155 ; a Grand 
Trunk, 350 ; a Birmingham, 1:150. ^ Between 1791 
and 1794, 81 Canal Acts were obtained, involving 
an outlay of 5,000,000 ; between 1794 and 1796, 
45 more Acts were passed all these in addition 
to the 30 obtained previous to 1790. Up to 1838, 
according to a calculation made by Rennie, the 
famous engineer, 2477 miles of canals had been 
constructed in Great Britain at atn expenditure of 
24,500,000. High dividends were paid : in 1818 
Grand Trunk shares were yielding a dividend of 
65. Benefits, of course, accrued to users of canals 
as well as to shareholders : Leeds merchants and 
manufacturers benefited greatly by the Leeds and 
Liverpool canal, by the Aire navigation, and by 
the smaller canals which connected the growing 
town with other parts of the country. But at 
the very height of canal business and prosperity, 
the railways came in, and as soon as George 
Stephenson had demonstrated the possibilities of 
the steam locomotive, 'the canal traffic was surely 
doomed for the rest of the nineteenth century, 
at any rate. Nowadays we are making valiant 
efforts to revive it; no better example of our 
national want of foresight can be had than that 
afforded by the fact that for seventy years we 
allowed our waterways to lie comparatively idle. 

George Stephenson made the railway line be- 
tween Darlington and Stockton in 1825 ; the line 
between Manchester and Liverpool followed five 
years later. 1834 witnessed the introduction of 
railway life to Leeds in the form of a line made 
between Leeds and Selby. There is an account 
of (its birth in the Leeds Mercury of a few days 
ater. "This stupendous public work/' says 


writer, "was opened on Monday morning last. 
[The date of the opening was September 22, 
1834.] The passengers numbered about 150. 
Upwards of two hours were spent in travelling the 
first four and a half miles. About two hours 
having been allowed for festivity and mutual con- 
gratulation, the train started on its return from 
Selby about a quarter past eleven, and reached 
Leeds at half-past twelve amidst the applause of 
the spectators. . . . For the greater accommo- 
dation of passengers the railway train will for the 
present start from Leeds piecisely at half-past six 
in the morning and again at half-past one in the 
afternoon." The first Leeds station was at Marsh 
Lane ; the present Wellington Station was opened 
in 1848 ; the Central in 1854 > the New Station 
in 1869. Little by little the town was linked up 
with Hull, York, Sheffield, Bradford, Dewsbury ; 
with the Durham and Northumberland towns ; with 
Manchester and Liverpool; with the Midlands and 
London. Within fifty years of the first humble 
train's appearance, Leeds folk were looking at 
gorgeous Pullman cars wherein Leeds merchants 
could loll at their ease while the swift Midland 
engines hurried them from Leeds to London. 

While much was done to develop communica- 
tion between Leeds and other centres, near and 
far, little had been accomplished in the way of 
interior transit up to 1871. The town by that 
time had thrown itself out in all directions. It 
was no longer the hamlet clustering around the 
ancient bridge, nor the borough which in Ralph 
Thoresby's day was bounded by Timble Bridge 
in one direction, Mill Hill in another ; the Aire in 
a third, the top of Briggate in a fourth. It had 


spread from Hunslet to Kirkstall ; from Farnley 
to Roundhay i it took in a vast area, with a popu- 
lation of quite a quarter of a million. As in other 
towns, the omnibus was in evidence, but omni- 
buses were already becoming as obsolete as stage- 
coaches and post-chaises. In 1871 certain private 
speculators, knowing that the tramway system was 
proving successful in various big centres (it had 
first been introduced into England at Birkenhead, 
in 1860, by Francis Train, and subsequently at 
Liverpool on a scale of some magnitude in 1868), 
and taking advantage of the Tramways Act of 
1870, formed themselves into a private company 
and began a service of horse-drawn tramcars 
which was at first much welcomed and appreciated. 
But the usual difficulties attendant upon private 
enterprise soon< arose ; the Leeds folk began to be 
dissatisfied with the service, and there were frequent 
disputes between the tramway directors and the 
municipal authorities as to the repair of the roads. 
In 1894 the differences were settled and the diffi- 
culties solved by the Corporation acquiring the 
rights of the private company at a cost of over 
100,000, and since then, first by the introduction 
of steam-driven, and afterwards by the use of 
electricity-propelled cars, Leeds folk have been able 
to journey from one confine of the city to another 
at their ease. They can, indeed, if they choose 
to waste their time in doing so, take a journey by 
tramcar from Leeds to Manchester an adventure 
which has been accomplished more than once by 
the inquisitive. 

1 This spirit of acquisition of aids to comfort 
and convenience has been much to the fore in 
Leeds during modern times. It seems an odd thing 


to us of these upsetting and innovating days that 
such matters as water-supply, lighting, and sani- 
tation should ever have been in the hands of private 
individuals in any big centre of population, but 
so it was until very recently. In the old days 
Leeds folk used to draw their water from the 
river Aire : it was not until the end of the seven- 
tenth century that some private individuals con- 
structed a reservoir at the top of Briggate ; others 
were made, a long time afterwards, in the neigh- 
bourhood of the present Albion Street. In 1815, 
Sir John Rennie was called in, as an expert engineer, 
to advise on the Leeds water-supply from his 
report one gains some interesting knowledge of Leeds 
as it was in those days. The population of 63,000 
used 200,000 gallons of water per day : it was 
pumped up from the river by an old water-wheel 
which was past work. The three reservoirs just 
mentioned were in existence. Rennie doubtless 
with fears and trembling proposed to buy a 
steam-engine of sixteen horse-power for pumping, 
and to distribute the water through nine-inch mains : 
the cost of all this, he said, would be about 5700. 
Since then, the Leeds folk have bought out the 
private water-supplies (1852) for 250,000 ; have 
spent 4,000,000 on water-supply, and at the 
present time are supplying themselves (nearly half 
a million in number) with some 16,000,000 gallons 
of water per diem. As with water so with the 
means of lighting the town: the old Gas Company 
was bought out by the Corporation in 1870 for 
750,000 ; the Corporation took over the Electric 
Lighting of their streets, homes, and workshops 
twenty years ago. Whether any private folk ever 
ran sanitation as a business we may well doubt ; 


nobody ever thought of Sanitation until cholera 
came, as it did to I/eeds in 1850. Now the muni- 
cipal authorities are always sorely exercised about 
drains and sewers and insanitary areas and slum 
dwellings and open spaces, with the result that 
I^eeds is well drained and carefully supervised and 
its inhabitants are well supplied with large and 
handsomely appointed public parks. 


population of the United Kingdom at the 
1 general Census of 1831 was 24,392,485. The 
twenty-four millions were governed by a Parlia- 
ment which, so far as the House of Commons was 
concerned, was supposed to be representative. In 
sober truth, in real fact, popular representation 
was a delusion. Out of close upon seven hundred 
members of the House of Commons nearly one- 
half was returned to Westminster by private 
patronage. Statistics, often appealed to in the 
pre-Reform warfare, proved that no less than 
three hundred and seven members of Parliament 
were returned by one hundred and fifty-four per- 
sons. There had been little change in the methods 
of election since the days of Henry VII. : what- 
ever change had taken place had been to the 
advantage of the privileged rather than to that 
of the people. "Parliament/' writes the late 
Mr. S. J. Reid in his "Life of Lord John Russell," 
" was little more than an assembly of delegates 
sent by large landowners. Ninety members were 
returned by forty-six places in which were less than 
fifty electors ; and seventy members were returned 
by thirty-five places containing scarcely any electors 
at all. Places such as Old Sarum consisting of 
a mound and a few ruins returned two members ; 
whilst Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham, in 



spite of their great populations, and in spite, too, 
of keen political intelligence and far-reaching com- 
mercial activity, were not yet judged worthy of the 
least voice in affairs. At Gatton the right of 
election lay in the hands of freeholders and house- 
holders paying scot and lot ; but the only elector 
was Lord Monson, who returned two members." 
Similar instances to that of Gatton, or approxi- 
mating very closely to it, might be recorded in- 
definitely : they occurred all over the country. 

The injustice to Leeds was particularly glaring. 
It had returned two members for a limited period 
during the Commonwealth : since then it had had 
no direct representation. Such electors as lived 
within it a limited number were county electors, 
who, whenever an election came on, had to travel to 
York to record their votes. But in 1831 the popu- 
lation of Leeds had risen to 123,000, and amongst 
this vast body were men of acute intelligence who 
were keenly desirous of having some share in the 
government of the country through the power to 
vote. Yorkshiremen have always been keen poli- 
ticians, and the spirits of unrest and of reform 
were very much abroad in the years which saw 
George IV. on the throne. The anomalies were as 
wicked as they were ludicrous. Here was a town 
with the largest population in the county and no 
representative in the House of Commons : a few 
miles away Knaresborough, a pocket-borough 
belonging to the Dukes of Devonshire, sent two 
members who were elected by a small parcel of 
burgage holders, nominees of the reigning Duke. 
Places of no commercial importance like Hedon 
and Boroughbridge returned two members each; 
at Thirsk forty-nine of the fifty burgage tenements 


were held by one proprietor, who of course returned 
whomsoever he liked. That the case of Leeds 
and of other large unrepresented towns needed 
redress is proved by the introduction of a special 
Bill into the House of Commons in February, 1830, 
proposing to confer the franchise on Leeds, Bir- 
mingham, and Manchester, as being the three 
largest unrepresented towns in the country. This 
Bill, introduced by Lord John Russell, was rejected 
by a majority of 48 in a house of 328 members. 
But there was seething discontent all over the 
land had been both before and after the Peterloo 
affair at Manchester in 1819 and by 1832 the 
Reform Bill, after being introduced three times 
and rejected twice, passed into law, William IV. 
personally intervening to prevent the Lords from 
again throwing it out. 

By the provisions of the Act of 1832, Leeds was 
accorded two members, and the number of electors 
placed on the registers was a little over 4000. The 
two contending parties were at that time labelled 
Whig and Tory. The Whigs already had one candi- 
date in the person of Mr. Marshall, a member of 
the well-known firm which employed so much 
labour and machinery in Leeds. Anxious to give 
him a colleague of high standing in the political 
world, they fixed on Mr. Thomas Babington 
Macaulay, a brilliant young gentleman of thirty- 
four years of age, who after a remarkable university 
career at Cambridge had distinguished himself as 
one of the most vigorous writers of the Edinburgh 
Review, had been called to the Bar, and had made 
some brief acquaintance with the unreformed 
House of Commons as member for Lord Lans- 
downe's pocket-borough of Calne in Wiltshire. 

cjo LEEDS 

Macaulay was at that time a Commissioner in 
Bankruptcy, and lie was not unknown as a barrister 
at some of the West Riding court-houses : already 
he was of some note in political circles as a promising 
man. "I hear/' writes Disraeli in "The Young 
Duke/' "that Mr. Babington Macaulay is to be 
returned. If he speak half as well as he writes, 
the House will be in fashion again." Macaulay 
received his invitation from the Leeds Whigs in 
October, 1831, and at once accepted it. The 
Leeds Tories brought out Mr. Michael Sadler, 
who had recently been prominently before the 
public in connection with the Duke of Newcastle's 
pocket-borough of Newark, and had been the subject 
of a smart attack in the Edinburgh Review. Owing 
to Macaulay's connection with the famous quarterly 
a good deal of personal bitterness was infused 
into the contest. In regard to his own relations 
to his possible constituents Macaulay adopted a 
singular amount of independence. He would give 
no pledges. "Under the old system/' he writes 
in a letter sent to the Leeds electors, " I have never 
been the flatterer of the great. Under the new 
system I will not be the flatterer of the people." 
He had various passages at arms, not only with his 
opponent, but with his own party ; but on December 
12, 1832, he was able to write from Leeds to his 
sister: "The election here is going on as well 
as possible. To-day the poll stands thus : Marshall 
1804 ; Macaulay 1792 ; Sadler 1353, The proba- 
bility is that Sadler will give up the contest. If he 
persists he will be completely beaten." In the 
end Marshall and MacatUay were returned, and 
the future historian took his seat for Leeds when 
the first Reformed Parliament met in January, 1833. 




But his connection \vitli Leeds was short-lived ; 
in 1834 he left England for India, as one of the 
members of the Supreme Council, and after his 
return, some years later, his relations with the 
House of Commons were resumed as member for 

Since Marshall and Macaulay were returned to 
represent Leeds in Parliament, many well-known 
men have sat for the growing town. The two 
members were increased to three in 1867 ; to five, 
in 1885. In one respect Leeds has faithfully 
carried jout the idea of the first Reform Act, which 
was that towns should be represented by men who 
had a close connection with them. At one time or 
another she has been represented by publicists of 
much more than local fame, such as Mr. Gerald 
Balfour, Sir Lyon (afterwards Lord) Playfair, Mr. 
Herbert (now Viscount) Gladstone, but as a rule 
her members have been local men, such as Wheel- 
house, Tennant, Barran, Jackson. One of the 
most remarkable and interesting elections ever 
known in Leeds was that of 1880, when Mr. W. E. 
Gladstone, who was then the recognized and formal 
candidate for the Midlothian division, was elected 
at Leeds, if not against his will, at least without 
any consent on his own part. Sir James Kitson 
had invited him to stand for Leeds as far back as 
March, 1878 ; Mr. Gladstone declined the offer. 
Later, a Leeds deputation waited on him in London, 
with a renewed invitation; Mr. Gladstone cha- 
racteristically treated its members to a speech, 
and, says Lord Morley, in his " Life of Gladstone/' 
" avoided any reference to the subject which they 
had come to handle." When the General Election 
of 1880 came, the Leeds Liberals nominated Mr. 


Gladstone without his consent, and returned him 
at the top of the poll by an unprecedented vote 
of 24,622 ; the nearest Conservative candidate, 
Mr. W- It. Jackson (afterwards Lord Allerton), only 
receiving 13,331 votes. Mr. Gladstone, however, 
was duly elected for Midlothian, and chose to 
sit for that constituency : the Leeds vacancy was 
then filled by his son Herbert, who was elected 
without opposition and remained member for 
Leeds for many years. 

Soon after the passing of the first Reform Act, 
Leeds had a share in reform which was just as 
necessary far more so, indeed, in certain practical 
matters as parliamentary readjustment. From its 
very beginning the Factory System of England had 
been a curse and an abomination. Men, women, 
and children were forced into the factories to work 
under conditions which were far worse than those 
under which the negro slaves of America laboured. 
"Persons of all ages and both sexes," writes Dr. 
Tickner, in his " Social and Industrial History of 
England," "were collected together in the new 
factories with a totally insufficient regard for their 
health and their morals. The rapid extensions of 
commerce led to long hours of labour by night as 
well as by day. The transference of work to 
women and children brought about a lowering of 
the standard of comfort in the homes of the people. 
The conditions of employment were in very many 
cases horrible ; the hours of labour were long ; 
the strength and intelligence demanded were quite 
beyond those of the children employed ; whippings 
and worse punishments were used to keep them to 
their tasks after they were quite tired out ; mind 
and body alike were neglected or, worse still, were 


fatally injured. Worst of all was the condition of 
the pauper apprentices, who were taken in batches 
by the masters of the water-mills, whose position 
in out-of-the-way places made it difficult for them 
to obtain sufficient labour. The position of these 
poor apprentices was literally one of slavery, often 
of a very brutal type. Some of the stories of their 
life seem hardly believable : unfortunately they are 
proved true by the evidence of Royal Commissions 
of Inquiry." 

Before the recommendations of the various 
Royal Commissions could be carried into effect, 
however, and while most people in England were 
utterly ignorant of the horrors and cruelties which 
were being perpetrated in the manufacturing dis- 
tricts, a cry for justice and redress had been set 
up in Leeds. Three Yorkshiremen had been pro- 
foundly stirred by the vile practices which obtained 
in the mills and workshops John Fidden, a Tod- 
morden manufacturer ; Michael Thomas Sadler, 
a Parliamentarian of whom we have already heard, 
and Richard Oastler, a land-agent, who was a 
native of Leeds. On September 29, 1830 a day 
always to be remembered in the annals of factory 
reform a letter appeared in the Leeds Mercury 
over the signature of Richard Oastler, in which 
attention was drawn to the slavery that was going 
on in the worsted and woollen districts a state 
of slavery more horrid," said the writer, "than 
. . that hellish system, colonial slavery." He 
poured scorn on the members of Parliament (of 
whom William Wilberforce was a type) who shed 
sentimental tears over the African slaves while 
they had not one word of pity for the slave-children 
at home. "The very streets," he wrote, "which 


receive the droppings of the Anti-Slavery Society 
are every morning wet by the tears of innocent 
victims at the accursed shrine of avarice who are 
compelled, not by the cast-whip of the negro slave 
driver, but by the dread of the equally appalling 
thong or strap of the overlooker to hasten, half 
dressed, but not half fed, to those magazines of 
British infantile slavery, the worsted mills. . . . 
Thousands of little children, both male and female, 
but principally female, from seven to fourteen 
years of age, are daily compelled to labour from 
six o'clock in the morning to seven in the evening 
. . . with only thirty minutes allowed for eating 
and recreation." This letter rang like a clarion 
through the land. To it, and to the labours of 
Fielden, Sadler, and Oastler, may be primarily 
attributed the various reforms which within the 
next twenty years completely changed the life of 
the factory and workshop. Other men, and notably 
I/ord Shaftesbury, joined in the movement, but 
to these three (who are commemorated, Sadler by 
a statue in Leeds parish church, Oastler by another 
at Bradford, Fielden by various memorials at Tod- 
morden) was chiefly due the inception of the 
agitation which swept slavery out of the mills. 

' While reform was in the air as regards factory 
life, it also came to the front as regards the adminis- 
tration of the Poor Laws. In 1833 a Commission 
of Inquiry sat by order of Parliament, and after 
collecting a large mass of evidence issued a report 
as to how poor relief was being given and as to the 
economy of the workhouses. The commissioners 
declared that th<* workhouse of that day was 
no more than "a large almshouse in which the 
young are (trained in idleness, ignorance, and vice ; 


the able-bodied maintained in sluggish, sensual 
idleness ; the aged and more respectable exposed 
to all the misery that is incident to dwelling in 
such a society, without government or classifica- 
tion." This led to the passing of the Poor Law 
Amendment Act of 1834, which has subsequently 
been itself amended on the lines recommended by 
various Royal Commissions. The main provisions 
of the Act of 1834 were for the abolition of the 
old allowances, for the bringing of all able-bodied 
paupers to the workhouse, there to be set to proper 
tasks, and for the providing of out-door relief for 
widows and aged folk who could not be considered 
as able-bodied. It also grouped parishes into 
unions, each union having its own workhouses. 
Hence the Yorkshire workhouses came to be locally 
known as " t' Union " : previously, it had been 
called, as often as not, and not without some 
significance, "f Bastille." In towns of the size 
of Leeds many union workhouses have arisen since 
1834, and various things have been said of them : 
according to certain writers, the poor have always 
held them in horror and detestation. But it 
chanced to the present writer, in the discharge of 
his professional duties some years ago, to have 
occasion to make a thorough examination of York- 
shire workhouses, and especially those of Leeds, 
and also to examine into the fashion in which 
Boards of Guardians discharge their trying and 
onerous duties, and his conclusion was that no 
institutions are better managed, and that kindness 
and consideration were as manifest as cruelty and 
oppression was evidently abundant in the days 
when Charles Dickens wrote " Oliver Twist." The 
truth is that public opinion has changed mightily 


in respect to tlie poor, the imbecile, and the 
criminal. Kindness exists in the breast of the 
guardian, even in that of the modern representative 
of Mr. Bumble ; instead of the idiot being chained 
and whipped, he is carefully housed in such palatial 
buildings as those at Menston and Wadsley, and if 
Armley Gaol is something of the old-fashioned, as 
modern prisons go, it is a vastly different prison 
to that old Yorkshire one of which Howard tells 
in which the unfortunate captives were sore put 
to it to avoid being eaten alive by rats. 


ABOUT the time of reform in matters parlia- 
mentary there was much similar reform in 
matters religious. For three hundred years a great 
many Englishmen had suffered under serious re- 
ligious disabilities. Nonconformists of all sorts, 
Roman Catholic and Protestant, had been obliged 
to practise their religion in more or less of a hole- 
and-corner fashion ; even in the eighteenth century 
the Romanist priest was saying his Mass in fear 
and trembling in some obscure stable-loft or back 
room of an inn, while the itinerant Methodist 
preacher's sermon by the wayside was, as often 
as not, terminated by his being thrown into the 
nearest horse-pond. Where toleration was per- 
mitted by law, it was often ignored in particular 
places ; the Yorkshire Nonconformist, Oliver 
Heywood, in spite of a licence signed by Charles 
II. and Mr. Secretary Arlington, was constantly 
harassed by local magistrates and more than once 
thrown into York Castle. But during the first 
quarter of the nineteenth century, matters began 
to mend. In 1828 the Test and Corporation Acts 
were repealed ; 1829 witnessed Catholic Emanci- 
pation ; in 1836, marriage in dissenting chapels 
was made legally valid ; in 1858 Jews were allowed 
to enter Parliament ; in 1871 religious tests were 

97 G 


abolished at the Universities. Under the new 
order of things Nonconformity, in all its various 
shades and complexions, flourished exceedingly in 
Leeds. The principal Protestant dissenting bodies 
had already got a strong footing in the town during 
the eighteenth century : in the first half of the 
nineteenth they increased mightily in power the 
Independents especially, who became a great 
.political as well as a religious force : when Dr. 
Hook first went to Leeds, Nonconformists ruled 
the roost in everything ; even in Church affairs. 
Nor was Roman Catholicism slow of growth in 
the town, once the old, savage penal laws were 
removed. Largely owing to a great influx of Irish 
labour into the town, new churches supplemented 
that first erected in honour of St. Anne in 1786, 
and various convents arose in various districts. 
When Pope Pius IX. restored the English Hierarchy 
in 1850, Leeds was one of the towns in the new 
diocese of Beverley ; in 1878 that diocese was split 
into two new dioceses Middlesborough being one, 
Leeds the other. Where there was one Roman 
Catholic church in Leeds in 1830, there are now a 
cathedral and fifteen other churches, a seminary, 
a theological college, and the houses of several 
religious orders. Within the modern city, or close 
on its boundaries, there are several well-known 
theological colleges or schools belonging to other 
religious bodies* In what one may call brick-and- 
mortar provision for religion, indeed,, Leeds has 
been well served during the last hundred years : 
no city in the kingdom is better off, relatively, in 
the matter of churches, chapels, and religious 

But the great revival of religion in Leeds during 


the nineteenth century is chiefly associated with 
the National Church and due to the labours and 
genius of one of its very greatest men, Walter 
Farquhar Hook, of whom it may safely be said 
that while Leeds is Leeds his name will never be 
forgotten. Of the Church life', of Leeds from the 
Reformation until his day, much might be written 
and most of it would be dull reading. It was, 
probably, not quite so bad as enthusiastic young 
Churchmen of these days are apt to make out. If 
we took as Gospel truth all that is written of Church 
life between 1560 and 1832, we might well believe 
that the Church of England was dead for three 
hundred years and was awakened to life only when 
the Oxford Movement began. Unfortunately, some 
of us are given to reading history rather care- 
fully. Those of us who do, know that there never 
was a period in her history wherein the Church 
was quite dead : she had life in her under George 
III., and under Queen Anne, and she survived the 
Puritan persecution of 1642-1660. It has become 
quite the fashion amongst a certain school of 
writers to affirm that parish life was dead and 
done for under Queen Elizabeth, but there is a 
certain entry in the Churchwarden's Account Book 
of Leeds parish church, under date 1583, when 
Alexander Fawcet was vicar, which shows that it 
was quite alive in Leeds. It runs thus : " Two 
thousand and a halff of Breades to serve the Parish 
withal, 8s. 4^. Item, for Wyne to the same pur- 
pose, 5 i6s. 6d." There must have been a goodly 
number of regular communicants at Leeds in 1583. 
Moreover, that same account book shows that in 
1608 the church was always well filled, and Thoresby 
records that, at about that period, all the vacant 

zoo LEEDS 

places being filled with seats, and galleries being 
fitted in the nave, the parish church was "yet 
found too small for so numerous and unanimous 
a congregation." He also records that in 1723 
they had a very grand (and evidently extremely 
inartistic and ugly) altar-piece in Leeds parish 
church, with gilt, velvet, and cherubs, "but/' 
he adds, "the greatest ornament is a choir well 
filled with devout communicants." 

Nevertheless, when Dr. Hook first came to 
Leeds in 1837 (the year following that which saw 
the foundation of the new Bishopric of Ripon, to 
which Leeds was allocated) Church matters and life 
were at a very low ebb. He had much to face. 
He had already made a great reputation as parish 
priest and impressive preacher at Coventry. The 
trustees of Leeds parish church knew his power : 
six of them, Wall, Becket, Gott, Banks, Tennant 
and Atkinson, repaired to Coventry on Sunday, 
March 12, 1837, to hear him preach. The result 
was that most of the trustees of the advowson 
favoured him but a certain minority did not. 
Neither did the ultra-Protestant Churchfolk of 
Leeds. He suffered the usual charges he was a 
Papist in disguise ; he held the doctrine of Tran- 
substantiation ; he was an avowed follower of 
Pusey and Newman ; he was a Jesuit. A strongly 
worded memorial against his election was signed 
by 400 persons ; it produced a counter-petition 
signed by 300. On March 20 the trustees were 
assembled in the parish church vestry ; in the 
church itself a great crowd of parishioners awaited 
the result. At last the chairman, Mr. Henry Hall, 
appeared in the choir and declared the trustees' 
decision Dr. Hook was elected by 16 votes out 

p. 100 


VICAR OF LEEDS, 1837-59 


of 23. The cries of applause were mingled with 
certain murmurs of dissatisfaction, but overhead 
the bells rang out a merry peal, and Mr. Hall set 
straight out for Coventry to carry the news of his 
election to the new vicar. 

What sort of Leeds was it as a Church town 
that Dr. Hook came to in the July of 1837, when 
he took up his residence at the house in Park Place 
which was to be his home for twenty-two years ? 
Dean Stephens has given us a succinct account of 
it in his Life of his revered father-in-law. "The 
provision on the part of the Church for the spiritual 
necessities of the place/' he writes, " was and had 
long been miserably inadequate. The parish com- 
prehended the whole of the town and a large portion 
of the suburbs. In 1825 there were only four 
churches in the town besides the parish church, 
and nine in the suburbs. The total number of the 
clergy was eighteen. Ten years later the town 
churches had been increased to eight by the erection 
at considerable cost of three large and ugly Peel 
churches, which proved to be total failures. They 
were without endowment, the congregations were 
very scanty, and the stipend derived from pew-rents 
was next to nothing. The town churches were 
mere chapels of ease to the parish church : no 
districts were assigned to them, the patronage of 
nearly all was vested in the vicar, and most of the 
baptisms, marriages, and funerals were performed 
at the parish church." But the entire staff of the 
parish church consisted of the vicar, one curate, 
and a clerk in orders. Nearly the whole of their 
time was taken up in discharging merely mechanical 
functions they were at the v church every morning 
from 8 to 11.30 for marriages ; they baptized and 

102 LEEDS 

churched twice a day ; funerals were of daily 
occurrence ; the school accommodation was 
wretched ; the churchwardens were nearly all 
valid Dissenters ; the services had been rendered 
in a slovenly and neglectful manner ; as to Church 
spirit, the whole number of communicants when 
Dr. Hook arrived was little more than 50, and most 
of these were women ; a clergyman who had been 
vicar of St. John's for thirty years affirmed that 
he had never seen a young man at the Lord's Table. 
Much disgrace attached to confirmations. Instead 
of being regarded in their true light and significance 
they were looked upon as occasions for merry- 
making; "they were frequently," writes Dean 
Stephens, "the occasions of scandalous festivities 
and improprieties, and many of the candidates 
returned to their homes initiated in vice instead 
of being confirmed in goodness." One may judge 
from these facts what sort of Churchmanship it 
was that Dr. Hook found at Leeds in 1837. " The 
real fact is," he wrote to his friend W. P. Wood 
[Lord Hatherley] within a week or two of his 
arrival, "that the established religion in Leeds 
is Methodism, and it is Methodism that all the 
most pious among the Churchmen unconsciously 

One of Dr. Hook's first great difficulties was 
with his churchwardens. The first vestry meeting 
held after his appointment as Vicar of Leeds re- 
sulted in the election of churchwardens, most of 
them Dissenters or "men otherwise unfavourable 
or indifferent to the interests of the Church." 
Then began the troubles which many the new 
vicar included had foreseen. "The parish 
churchwarden," writes Dean Stephens, "proved 


true to the spirit in which they had been elected. 
The ^ vicar . . . found the surplices in rags and the 
service books in tatters, but the churchwardens 
doggedly refused to expend a farthing upon such 
things. When they assembled at the church for 
a vestry meeting, they, and others like-minded, 
piled their hats and coats upon the holy table, 
and sometimes even sat upon it ; but the new 
vicar, with stern resolution, quickly put a stop to 
such profane outrages. He told them that he 
should take the keys of the church, and that no 
meetings would be held there in future. ' Eh ! ' 
said one, ' but how will you prevent it ? We 
shall get in if we like/ 'You will pass over my 
dead body, then/ replied the vicar/' This was 
precisely the spirit in which to deal with these 
highly objectionable persons your Yorkshireman, 
determined enough himself, is always sharp enough, 
too, to recognize a still more determined man and to 
see reason in him* Later that year, Dr. Hook found 
himself confronting a mob of 3000 parishioners 
assembled as a parish meeting in the Old 
Cloth Hall Yard and full of " malignant hostility 
to the church and the vicar. A statement, was 
made of the probable expenses for the coming year. 
They amounted to 355 us. 6d. A halfpenny rate 
was proposed and seconded. A Baptist preacher 
named Giles then rose and delivered a furious 
harangue, directed partly against Church rates and 
partly against the vicar/' Dr. Hook heard this 
out, rose, and after pointing out that the question 
of Church rates was no concern of his, but lay 
between the parishioners and the churchwardens, 
turned to Mr. Giles's attack upon himself. " With 
regard to the second part of my friend's speech/' 

104 ' LEEDS 

he said, "that which consisted of personal abuse, 
I would remind you that the most brilliant elo- 
quence without charity may be but as sounding 
brass " (the tone of his voice, and the twinkle of 
his eye as he uttered these words are described 
by an eye-witness of the scene as irresistibly comic), 
" and," he proceeded, " I am glad to have this 
early opportunity of publicly acting upon a Church 
principle a High Church principle a very High 
Church principle indeed " (a pause, and breath- 
less silence amongst the expectant throng) " I 
forgive him " ; and so saying he stepped up to the 
astonished Mr. Giles and shook him heartily by the 
hand, amidst roars of laughter and thunders of 
applause. . . . The day was gained. The rate was 
passed, and a vote of thanks to the chairman 
was carried with loud acclamation. None could 
appreciate better than a crowd of Yorkshiremen 
the mixture of shrewdness, good humour, and real 
Christian feeling by which he had extricated him- 
self from the difficulties of his position and turned 
the tables on his opponents. 

But this was only the beginning and there 
was much to face. Still, Dr. Hook's whole career 
in I^eeds between 1837 and 1859 ma y be sa *d, in 
spite of difficulties and occasional drawbacks and 
temporary defeats, to have been one long and 
brilliant victory. The congregations at the parish 
church soon became so large that there was not 
even standing room. A proposal to improve the 
church led to its being pulled down, and to the 
building of the present parish church, which was 
completed and opened in 1841. The outside esti- 
mate of cost was originally 9000 ; it rose to 
15,000 ; finally to 28,000 : a new peal of bells 


cost 1200. But Dr. Hook had a genius for organi- 
zation and for raising money, and when, in 1851, 
he reviewed in a sermon at the parish church the 
work of the past ten years he was able to quote 
some truly remarkable figures, giving the credit 
to those whom he addressed. "After expending 
28,000 in rebuilding this . . . you have in the 
course of ten years erected ten new churches, 
some of them at a cost of not less than 15,000 or 
20,000. . . . Assisted by a legacy of 20,000 
[from Mrs. Mathewman] you have erected seven- 
teen parsonage houses . . . the- parish of Leeds, 
one and undivided when this church was conse- 
crated, has already been formed into seventeen 
parishes, all of them endowed, and the clergy have 
increased from twenty-five to sixty. . . . You have 
during the last ten years provided school accom- 
modation for 7500 children." But Dean Stephens 
sums up Dr. Hook's work in Leeds in a sentence 
which has often been quoted and will bear endless 
quotation : " He found it a stronghold of Dissent, 
he left it a stronghold of the Church ; he found 
it one parish, he left it many parishes ; he found it 
with fifteen churches, he left it with thirty-six ; 
he found it with three schools, he left it with thirty ; 
he found it with six parsonage houses, he left it 
with twenty-nine." 

Since Dr. Hook's day the Vicarage of Leeds 
has been regarded as a certain step to an episcopal 
throne. One after another, almost without ex- 
ception, his successors have gone from Leeds to 
assume the mitre in one or other of our cathedrals 
Woodford to Ely, Atlay to Hereford, Gott to 
Truro, Jayne to Chester, Talbot to Southwark : 
a one time parish church curate is now Archbishop 

106 LEEDS 

of York. Dr. Hook himself wound up his career 
as Dean of Chichester. The man who of all English 
Churchmen of his time was most worthy of the 
chair of St. Augustine spent his last days in writing 
the "Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury," 
whose long roll would have been honoured by the 
addition of his name. Even in those last quiet 
years at Chichester he knew the troubles of money- 
raising which he had grappled with so ably at 
Leeds. He saw the ancient spire of the cathedral 
fall as he watched from his Deanery windows ; 
he was largely responsible for the great sums 
necessary to its rebuilding. There are worthy 
monuments to him in Chichester cathedral and in 
Leeds parish church, and in the All Souls' (Hook 
Memorial) church at Leeds, of which his son, Cecil, 
until recently Bishop of Kingston, was for some 
years vicar. He himself lies in the little church- 
yard of Mid-Lavant, in an unpretentious tomb, 
near which this slight account of his great work 
has been written. 


IN spite of his admitted love of money and 
his no less admitted belief in utilitarianism 
derived in large from the influence which Jeremy 
Bentham exerted upon his forefathers some ninety 
years ago the Yorkshireman possesses a soul for 
higher matters than " brass," and there is no other 
county in England (not even the jealously eyed 
rival, Lancashire) in which the impulse towards 
learning has been more shown or developed than 
in Yorkshire. Certain trite maxims are as firmly 
believed in by Yorkshiremen as old women used 
to believe in the magic virtues of a key and a Bible, 
brought into conjunction for purposes little short 
of witchcraft. " When land is gone, and money 
spent, Then learning is most excellent." "Learn- 
ing is better than house or land " these copy- 
book maxims are secretly, if not openly, trusted 
in no small degree, for your average Yorkshire- 
man is a mighty shrewd person, and he knows that 
this world is run by the men in whose headpieces 
knowledge has been safely stored, and that the 
ignorant are bound to go very close to the wall. 
And in the old days, before education was provided 
in such generous measure, thousands of Yorkshire 
operatives might be found painfully endeavouring 



to get such book-learning as was available at 
night schools or from the poorly equipped libraries 
of the first mechanics' institutes; the desire for 
knowledge was keenly alive amongst the working 
classes of the North long before much opportunity 
for its acquisition was afforded them. Know- 
ledge, they knew, meant power. 

Popular education in England may justly be 
said to have begun with the foundation of the 
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in 
1698. Within fifty years this society had some 
1500 free schools at work in various parts of the 
country. I^ater the efforts of Robert Raikes of 
Gloucester brought into existence the first Sunday 
schools, wherein some secular education was given 
in addition to religious instruction. At the be- 
ginning of the nineteenth century two highly 
important enterprises came into existence those 
of the British and Foreign School Society in 1805, 
and of the National Society for Promoting the 
Education of the Poor in the Principles of the 
Church of England in 1811. The British schools, 
as they came to be called, originated in the work 
of one Joseph I/ancaster; the National schools* 
in that of Dr. Bell, a retired Indian chaplain. A 
British school was established in lyeeds, near Boar 
Lane, in 1811 ; a National school in connection 
with the parish church, two years later. Some of 
the dissenting communities opened schools in the 
town : by 1830 there was a good deal of provision 
for poor folks' children. But it was not until 1833 
that Government was brought to see that the 
State had some duties in this matter. The first 
Government grant of money in aid of education 
was made in 1833 a, miserable and contemptible 


donation of 20,000. In 1839 a Board of Educa- 
tion was constituted and supplied with 30,000 
to distribute amongst all denominations, and 
children were ordered to be taught two hours 
a week. Even by 1870 the State grant had only 
risen to 500,000, but the principle had been 
established and slow progress was being made. 
The Education Department was established in 
1856 ; the first Code issued in 1860. And in 1870 
Mr. Forster's famous Education Act provided 
Board Schools. These were for many years a 
subject of fierce contention they have now become 
Council Schools, and there have been contentions 
about them, too. But education has progressed, 
and when Mr. Fisher brought his first proposals 
to the House of Commons last year he was able 
to ask a quite amenable assemblage for 40,000,000 
just two thousand times as much as the House 
had granted ninety years before. 

Where, in Leeds, one hundred years ago, there 
was nothing but the poorly equipped schools of 
the National Society and the British Society, 
admirably intended, but handicapped in every 
way by State neglect and public indifference, 
there are now schools by the score, splendidly 
built and lighted and warmed, furnished with every 
adjunct to education that expert knowledge has 
been able to devise. Had any man suggested in 
the pre-Reform time that a poor boy should be 
enabled to pass from the elementary school through 
higher grade schools to the Universities he would 
have been regarded not merely as a madman but 
as a most dangerous innovator. It would have 
been useless to point out that in earlier days there 
had been many facilities for such a course and that 

i io LKKDvS 

previous to the upheaval of the sixteenth century 
there had been Archbishops and Chancellors who 
had risen to their eminence from the labourer's 
cottage and the craftsman's workshop by means 
of the free schools attached to cathedrals and 
chantries. In the days when Adam Smith was 
the Englishman's patron saint and the principles 
of the laisser faire school of economists were para- 
mount, the education of the poor was a highly 
dangerous thing their job was to work at grey 
shirtings or cotton fabrics, and not at printed 
books. But nowadays, any Leeds boy of ability, 
no matter what his origin, can make his way to a 
University without let or hindrance the achieve- 
ment lies with himself. For in addition to the 
elementary schools, the last fifty years has seen 
the development of the secondary school, the all- 
important step between the first and last grades 
in education. The Grammar School of Leeds was 
rebuilt in 1823 ; thirty-six years later it was re- 
moved from its old site near Briggate to a fine 
position on Woodhouse Moor ; it was once more 
rebuilt fourteen years ago : its boys have the 
advantages of many exhibitions and scholarships. 
Attached to its foundation nowadays is the Girls' 
High School, first established by voluntary effort, 
as were also the Modern School and the Middle 
Class School the latter founded by the Parish 
Church authorities in 1876 both now the property 
of the Corporation. Still more advanced teaching 
is available in Leeds, on certain definite lines, at 
the Leeds Clergy School (1876), the Roman Catholic 
Seminary (1876), the Roman Catholic College 
(1909), and the Wesleyan College at Headingley 
(1868). There is also a Central Technical School, 


and there is a valuable aid to self-improvement 
in education in the various classes and facilities 
of the Leeds Institute, which, originally founded 
in 1824, has developed into an establishment of 
note and capability. 

There is no need for Leeds boys to cast longing 
eyes on the older Universities, though, as long as 
England is England, no young Englishman of a 
certain temperament will be kept from Oxford 
and perhaps not from Cambridge by the fact that 
he has a University at his own door. Since 1904, 
Leeds has had a University of her own. It was 
the first University founded in Yorkshire a curious 
fact, considering that the School of York had a 
European reputation as far back as the eighth 
century. An attempt to found a University at 
York for the benefit of the northern counties was 
made in 1652, when Parliament was petitioned 
without result. This project was again mentioned 
early in the nineteenth century : about the same 
time there was a similar proposal made as regards 
Leeds. In some sort, the present University of 
Leeds may be said to havs had its origin in 1831 
when the Leeds Medical , School was founded. 
Forty-three years later, (he Yorkshire College of 
Science came into existence in temporary buildings 
in Cookridge Street ; in 1884 the Yorkshire College 
and the Medical School were amalgamated, and in 
the following year the new college buildings in 
College Road were opened by the Prince of Wales 
(King Edward VII.}- In 1837 the Yorkshire College 
united with similar institutions at Manchester and 
Liverpool in forming the Victoria University : 
after seven years of life, this came to an end, and 
in 1904 the University of Leeds received its charter. 

ii2 LEEDS 

It receives a handsome annual grant from the Leeds 
Corporation, and it has always owed much of its 
success to the generous benefactions of certain 
great Companies and to the donations of wealthy 
Yorkshiremen, though it bears, and rightly, the 
name of Leeds, it is to all intents and purposes a 
county university. Ib provides some twenty-five 
professorships in Arts, Law, Commerce, Science, 
and Technology, and twelve in Medicine, and it 
has proved of vast benefit to Yorkshire students. 

"Any real education the poor created for 
themselves," writes Mrs. Green in her Epilogue 
to her husband's famous " Short History/' " in 
working men's clubs, mechanics' institutes, debating 
societies, industrial classes, Sunday schools, or 
little libraries where the student paid a shilling 
a month for books and conferences." Many insti- 
tutions of this humble nature sprang up in Leeds 
before the Government gave its beggarly 20,000 
to education in 1833 (not much credit to the first 
Reformed Parliament), and they have been largely 
increased and augmented and in some cases have 
developed out of all knowledge. The mechanics* 
institutes in their day did invaluable work that 
day, of course, was before we got free libraries, 
picture galleries, and museums, A mechanics' 
institute was founded in Leeds : in Basinghall Street, 
in 1825 ; by 1830 it had a good library and was 
giving instruction in chemistry, mathematics, and 
drawing. But the great educational institution of 
this sort in Leeds has been the Leeds Philosophical 
and Literary Society, founded in 1819, and still 
pre-eminent for its museum, its library, and its 
lectures. Many other learned societies have arisen 
the Yorkshire Archseological Society ; the 


Thoresby Society ; the Parish Register Society 
all doing most valuable work after their own 
fashion. And since the first free library was 
opened in Leeds in 1868, Leeds folk have had 
plenty of books a Leeds man has literally hundreds 
of thousands of the very best books at his com- 
mand : he has, as it were, nothing to do but to put 
out his fingers and take them down. Any man 
who cares to spend his spare time in the most 
profitable of all pursuits can read to his heart's 
content in Leeds, and at no cost to his pocket. 

Then there has been the educative value of 
newspapers. Some people would have us believe 
that we should have been all the better if the 
newspaper tax had never been abolished and if 
the liberty of unlicensed printing had never been 
given to us : one hears of very superior people 
who never open a newspaper. It is quite true 
no one knows it better than an old journalist 
that our newspapers have degenerated ; that most 
of them are of an exceeding vulgarity ; that the 
importation of American ideas and methods has 
made many of them unfit for a gentleman to spend 
a penny upon, that they certainly seem, nowadays, 
to be written by office-boys for the delectation 
of shop-boys. But in the nineteenth century the 
newspapers of the big north-country towns were 
blessings, unmitigated, undiluted, to the north- 
country working man. And in Leeds, at any rate, 
one newspaper has lost nothing of its old dignity 
nor sacrified to the present god of vulgarity the 
Yorkshire Post is still what it was in the days 
of Pebody and Palmer. Leeds has owed a great 
deal to its press. The Leeds Mercury, as long 
jas it belonged to the Baines family, was a great 


ii4 LEEDS 

educational force, beloved of the Radical working 
man, yet sane and sober in its liberalism. And 
there were, during the nineteenth century, other 
Leeds papers which made for culture and had, 
at one time or another; celebrated men in con- 
nection with them. Alaric Watts, somewhat cele- 
brated in his time as a poet and a critic, was once 
editor of the Leeds Intelligencer, forerunner of the 
Yorkshire Post. Robert Nicol, another poet, was 
on the staff of the Leeds Times, which was subse- 
quently edited by Samuel Smiles, afterwards one 
of the most widely-read authors of his day. In 
the old Leeds Mercury Weekly Supplement, and in 
the Yorkshire Weekly Post still appealing to a 
large circle of readers Leeds and Yorkshire folk 
have possessed two excellent budgets of good and 
sound reading, in which fiction has ranged with 
archaeology and the news of the world with pages 
for the children. 

But Leeds folk have had still, more educational 
advantages during the last half-century than those 
which are to be derived from schools, colleges, 
books, and newspapers. They have had education 
through eye and ear, in pictures, architecture, and 
music. It would astonish an ancient Councillor 
of the Thoresby period to find in the Municipal 
Art Gallery of Leeds a fine collection of paintings 
put there, free of cost, for the poor folk to look at, 
admire, and study : in such a man's day, the mere 
notion that Art was a thing in which working 
people could or should take a delight would have 
been scouted as preposterous. But Leeds folk 
began to look at pictures quite a hundred years 
ago, in certain exhibitions held in the town 
between 1809 an( l I & 2 4 by a worthy association 


calling itself the Northern Society for the En- 
couragement of the Fine Arts. It has, perhaps, 
not produced many great artists, so far, though it 
has something of a "school." But Cope was a 
native of Leeds, and so was Benjamin Wilson; 
so, too, was Lodge, the famous engraver. And of 
late years Leeds people, in addition to pictures, 
have had some good architecture to look at an 
excellent thing, for folk who grow accustomed 
to look at fine architecture will not willingly allow 
their own immediate surroundings to wax drab 
and sordid. There is the Town Hall, opened by 
Queen Victoria in 1858, by which time it had cost 
;i33>ooo It is sufficiently Roman-Corinthian to 
remind one of Italy and Greece, just as the 
Unitarian Church, in Park Row, is sufficiently 
Gothic to remind one that its architect, Pugin, 
designed it in the Perpendicular Style of the 
fifteenth century. Many of the modern churches 
are of a good style and would be notable in 
any surroundings the Roman Catholic Cathedral ; 
the Church of the Immaculate Conception; St. 
John at Holbeck ; St. Chad at Headingley ; the 
Hook Memorial Church ; St. Martin at Potter - 
newton. There is at least one imposing street 
Park Row ; there are massive and satisfactory 
buildings in the vast Infirmary and the new Post 
Office ; Leeds is no longer the dingy place spoken 
of by Horace Walpole in 1756. And to the de- 
lights of the eye it has added the delights of the 
ear. It is a veritable education in church music 
to attend the services at Leeds parish church ; 
the Leeds Musical Festivals are famous the world 
over ; at the Leeds College of Music all that love 
of the art which is born in Yorkshire men and 


women is sedulously fostered and encouraged under 
the aegis of Mr. Edgar Haddock ; there is music 
everywhere in Leeds, from the superior and high- 
class subscription concerts to the music of the 
bands in the parks. Vastly different and how 
far better ! all this to the state of affairs which 
existed in Leeds at the end of the eighteenth 
century, when all was dull and wretched and un- 
lovely, and the working folk were rioting for bread. 


THE little hamlet of the Domesday Survey has 
now become the sixth largest town in Eng- 
land. It was elevated to the rank of city in 1893 ; 
since that year its chief magistrate has borne the 
proud style and title of Lord Mayor. In 1085 its 
population was perhaps two hundred souls, all 
told ; its taxable value, between six and seven 
pounds : in 1917, according to the reference books, 
the population numbered 459,260 ; the rateable 
value was 2,258,486. Two hundred years ago 
there was scarcely a good road into Leeds ; now 
it is served by at least five great railway lines, 
and is connected by canals with the Mersey in one 
direction and the Humber in another. In 1750 
there was only one trade of importance in the 
town ; in 1900, in addition to its two great in- 
dustries in wool and iron, Leeds was manufacturing 
flax and canvas, rope and thread, leather and 
linen, glass and earthenware, tools and machinery. 
It is, in short, one of the biggest, busiest, most 
industrious towns in the world ; its goods are to 
be found in every continent, perhaps in every 
country. All this has been wrought by its own 
folk, and we can close this brief account of the 
town itself in no better fashion than by writing 
down a few words about some only some of the 
more notable amongst them. 



The Vicarage of Leeds has been filled at cue 
time or another by men who, if not as notable nor 
as vigorous in labour as Dr. Hook, are at least 
interesting from the historian's point of view. 
Robert Cooke (ob. 1615), a native of Benton, 
probably educated at Leeds Grammar School, 
was at the time of his appointment a Fellow of 
Brasenose College, Oxford; he was also a Master 
of Arts and a Bachelor of Divinity. He succeeded 
Alexander Fawcet in 1589, and ere long attained 
considerable fame as a trenchant disputant and 
controversialist in the differences with Rome: 
a Roman Catholic treatise of the period styles 
him " Captain Minister of the Yorkshire Preachers." 
In 1610 he held a public disputation with a well- 
known priest named Cuthbert Johnson, before the 
King's Council at York. He wrote a big book on 
the " Counterfeited Works of the Fathers " : it was 
published in 1614, with a dedication to James, 
Bishop of Durham, who rewarded its author with 
a prebendary in Durham Cathedral. Robert 
Cooke was succeeded by his brother Alexander, 
concerning whose appointment there was much 
vexatious litigation before Lord Verulam Sir 
Francis Bacon. Alexander Cooke was a Fellow 
of University College, Oxford : at Oxford he was 
greatly celebrated as a preacher. Like his brother 
he was a keen controversialist, and from 1617 to 
1630 he published a good many curious works, 
all in quarto, which Ralph Thoresby possessed. 
Both these vicars were book-collectors and they 
possessed a large number of painted books and 
manuscripts which had once belonged to the 
Cistercians of Kirkstall. These, with their own 
collections, came into the hands of their next 


successor, Henry Robinson, nephew of John 
Harrison. The Cookes and Robinsons were, of 
course, Leeds men. A Leeds man, too, who attained 
considerable fame in the Church in recent years 
was John Gott, who came of the well-known mer- 
chant family of that name. In Dr. Hook's diary 
of March 29, 1849, there is a note (the tenth of 
his appointments for .that day) : " Mr. William 
Gott, to consult about sending his son to Oxford." 
The son proceeded to Oxford, and in due course 
became Vicar of Leeds, Dean of Worcester, and 
Bishop of Truro. It has already been remarked 
that Leeds has in modern times supplied many 
bishops to the episcopal bench : one vicar of Leeds 
in previous times attained a fame which has gathered 
around few English prelates. John Lake, a Halifax 
man, who was vicar for a short time after the 
Restoration, and subsequently Bishop of Bristol, 
and, later, of Cbichester, was one of the Seven 
Bishops who upheld English liberty against the 
ill-advised demands of James II. Many notable 
men have been associated with what is perhaps 
the most important public institution in Yorkshire 
Leeds Infirmary. William Hey, who was chiefly 
responsible for its foundation in 1767, was a 
famous physician of the town, and twice Mayor 
of Leeds. He was the first President of the Leeds 
Philosophical Society, founded in 1783 ; he was 
a Fellow of the Royal Society. At the time of his 
death, in 1819, he had been surgeon to the Infirmary 
for 45 years. In the same year died Matthew 
Talbot, father-in-law of the first Edward Baines 
he had been secretary to the Infirmary for 33 
years : he was a man of learning, and a linguist, 
and was well versed in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. 

20 I/EEDS 

Two other lyeeds doctors, Samuel Smith and Thomas 
Pridgin Teale (who, like Hey, was a Fellow of the 
Royal Society), served the Infirmary assiduously, 
one for 45 the other for 33 years ; so, too, for a 
long time as leading physician did Sir Thomas 
Clifford Allbutt, editor of one of the best-known 
standard works on medicine, introducer to English 
practice of the ophthalmoscope and the reduced 
clinical thermometer, a Fellow of the Royal Society, 
and Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge. 
Of benefactors I/eeds Infirmary can show a great 
list of names the somewhat eccentric I^eeds mil- 
lionaire, Robert Arthington, gave it 12,000 in 1900 ; 
a year later a I^eeds provision merchant, C. S. 
Weatherill, left it 117,000. And for twenty-eight 
years, as either chairman or treasurer, Robert 
Benson Jowitt gave to the work a devotion and 
a care rarely equalled in the history of town charities. 
If I^eeds has no very long roll of names eminent 
in art or letters, she has at least some of notability 
and interest. Joseph Milner (1744-1797), after a 
successful career at Cambridge in classics and 
mathematics, became Headmaster of Hull Grammar 
School, afternoon lecturer at Holy Trinity in that 
town, and eventually, by the influence of William 
Wilberforce, vicar of Hull. He became celebrated 
a hundred years ago by his " History of the Church 
of Christ," chiefly valuable, in spite of defects, for 
its references to the Early Fathers. Much of it 
was, however, the work of his younger brother, 
Isaac (1750-1820), who, at Cambridge, "was not 
only the best man of his year, but had the unique 
honour of the epithet Incomparabilis attached to 
his name at the head of the Mathematical Tripos 
in 1774, and there it remained in the Cambridge 


Calendar for many years " (Overton and Relton : 
"Hist. Eng. Church," 1714-1800). Isaac Milner 
won many distinctions at Cambridge. He was 
first Smith's Prizeman. He was Fellow of Queen's, 
1776 ; first Jacksonian Professor of Natural 
Experimental Philosophy, 1783 ; and President of 
Queen's, 1788. In 1791 he was appointed Dean 
of Carlisle. He wrote a life of his brother ; his 
own life was written by his niece, Mary Milner. 
Although of Leeds origin, it will be noted that 
the work and lives of the two Milners had little 
to do with Leeds the same remark applies to 
two or three other Leeds natives who became 
eminent in the world of letters. Bryan Waller 
Proctor (1787-1874), under his pseudonym of 
" Barry Cornwall/ 1 produced one or two volumes 
of poems and a tragedy, "Mirandola," which had 
a run of sixteen nights at Covent Garden in 1821 ; 
his daughter, Adelaide Ann, became more cele- 
brated than her parent, chiefly by her contributions 
to Household Words and the Corrihitt Magazine. 
Richard Holt Hutton (1826-1897), the son of a 
Unitarian minister, was educated at University 
College School with a view to following in his 
father's footsteps : finding the ministry unsuited 
to h.trn he became for a time Principal of University 
Hall, but found his true vocation in 1861, when, 
in conjunction with Meredith Townsend, be began 
to edit the Spectator. Henceforth he became a 
remarkable force in modern circles and wrote much 
on religious and literary matters, and notably on 
such leaders as Newman, George Eliot, Carlyle, 
Maurice, and Matthew Arnold. Alfred Austin 
(1835-1891), the son of a Leeds merchant, was 
born at Headingley and educated at Stonyhurst 



and London University. He was called to the 
Bar in 1857, but in 1861 published a satirical poem, 
"The Season/' and thenceforward devoted himself 
to poetry and journalism. He was one of the prin- 
cipal writers on the Standard in its palmy days, and 
for some years edited the National Review. In 1896, 
four years after the death of Tennyson, he was 
appointed Poet-Laureate the only Yorkshireman 
who has ever held that distinguished appointment. 

Three very famous men have been closely con- 
nected with Leeds without being actually of it. 
Richard Bentley (1661-1742) has often been asso- 
ciated with Wakefield, because he was educated 
at its grammar school, but his birthplace, Oulton, 
is so close to Leeds as to entitle Leeds folk to claim 
this great critic, scholar, and divine as one of them- 
selves. After an academic career at St. John's 
College, Cambridge, Bentley became tutor to a 
son of Bishop Stillingfleet, and accompanied his 
charge to Oxford, where he himself pursued his 
studies and was admitted to a Master's degree. 
In 1692 he was appointed keeper of the King's 
Library : in 1694 Boyle Lecturer ; in 1700 he 
entered upon his famous Mastership of Trinity 
College, Cambridge, and in 1717 was elected Regius 
Professor of Divinity. His career was distinguished 
by vast evidences of learning and by constant 
quarrelling, and though Pope put him into the 
" Dunciad," he was not far from being the greatest 
scholar of his age. Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), 
born at Fieldhead, began his career as a Unitarian 
minister at Needhkm Market in 1755 ; in 1758 he 
had a chapel at Nantwich; in 1767 he came to 
Leeds as minister at Mill Hill Chapel and remained 
in Leeds for six years, during which time he exerted 


p. 122 


great influence on the literary and philosophic life 
of the town. He received the degree of U,.D. 
from Edinburgh University in 1764, and was elected 
a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766: He was one 
of the foremost experimental chemists of his day, 
and was the inventor of the pneumatic trough and 
the discoverer of oxygen. He was a minister, in 
Birmingham from 1780 to 1791 : it was during his 
residence in that town that a mob of roughs, re- 
senting his sympathies with the French Revolution, 
burnt his house, his scientific instruments, his 
library, and his valuable collection of manuscripts. 
Soon after this catastrophe Priestley, being left a 
considerable fortune, emigrated to America and 
settled in Pennsylvania, where he died fourteen 
years later. Contemporary with Priestley was John 
Smeaton (1724-1792), who was born at Austhoipe, 
near Whitkirk, just outside Leeds. Originally in- 
tended for the law, he became a mathematical 
instrument maker, but quickly turned his attention 
and undoubted genius to engineering. He built 
the great lighthouse on the Eddystone, outside 
Plymouth, constructed the Forth and Clyde Canals, 
undertook the improvement of Ramsgate Harbour, 
and built some of the most important bridges in 
England and Scotland. 

In recent times three I^eeds men have attained 
great fame in three different directions. James 
Theodore Bent (1852-1897), educated at Repton 
and at Wadham College, Oxford, after travelling 
in Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor, went in 1891 to 
South Africa and made extensive explorations 
amongst the Great Zimbabwe ruins; two years 
later he carried out similar investigations in Abys- 
sinia and Arabia, He published three important 

124 I/EEDS 

travel works/' The Cyclades," 1885 ; " The Ruined 
Cities of Mashonaland," 1892 ; and " The Sacred 
City of the Ethiopians " in 1893. Ernest Crofts 
(1847-1911), educated at Rugby, studied painting, 
first tinder Clay in lyondon, and subsequently under 
Hunter at Diisseldorf, and, possibly because of 
Hunter's influence, began to exhibit his well-known 
military pictures in the early 'seventies, with the 
result that he was elected Associate of the Royal 
Academy in 1878, and Royal Academician in 1896. 
His pictures are well known by the engravings of 
them : " Morning of the Battle of Waterloo " ; 
" Charles I. on his way to the Scaffold " ; " Napo- 
leon and the Old Guard " and one, at least, 
has a Yorkshire setting " Cromwell at Marston 
Moor." An artist of a totally different sort was 
Philip William May (1864-1903), a Leeds boy of 
humble parentage, who after various remarkable 
adventures in Australia, to which he had been 
taken at an early age, appeared in London about 
1890 and rapidly made his name as one of the 
greatest of English caricaturists. A perfect master 
of line, gifted with a sure, certain, and curious 
sense of humour, he became a regular contributor 
to Punch, published an Annual of his own, and 
earned vast sums of money which he was by no 
means slow to give away to his fellow-Bohemians. 
One of 1 our very greatest masters of black-and- 
white, he stands in a group of which the only other 
members are Hogarth, Keene, and Leech. 

Surely the proudest boast of any great town 
should be that its great men have closely identified 
themselves with the welfare of their native place. 
In this respect Yorkshire towns have been singu- 
larly fortunate. No one thinks of Halifax without 


remembering the name of Crossley and Ackroyd ; 
of Hull without thinking of the Wilsons ; of 
Sheffield without reflecting on the careers of John 
Brown and Mark Firth; of Bradford without 
recollecting the romantic stories of Holden and 
leister, Salt and Foster. All these men made vast 
fortunes in their respective towns ; each gave 
liberally, nay, royally, to their improvement and 
for the benefit of the poorer folk in them. I^eeds 
has not been behind Hull or Bradford, Halifax or 
Sheffield in this matter. The names of such men 
as Marshall, Fairbairn, Fowler, KLitson, Baines, 
Barran, Beckett, Jackson occur at once. All, in 
one degree or another, were great pioneers of in- 
dustry, great employers of labour, wise, far-seeing, 
as keenly alive to the interests of their town as 
to their own. They developed the commerce of 
I^eeds, they represented her interests in the 
municipal council chamber and in the House of 
Commons ; two of them, at any rate, carried the 
I^eeds energy, the I/eeds practicality, to th House 
of lyords. It is a wonderful story altogether, that 
story of I^eeds in the nineteenth century, with its 
chapters of commercial enterprise, of corporate 
development, of infinite resource, and all the men 
who took part in the things which have gone to 
make it up were of rare grit and quality. There 
are statues to some of them in the public places 
and buildings, but their best and most enduring 
memorial is the town itself, with its well-ordered 
government, its solid prosperity, and its sure 
prospect of still greater achievements. 


AIRE, The river, 9, 12, 13, 19, 
22, 31 ff., 43, 44, 54, 59, 7. 
79, 82 ff. 

Austin, Alfred, 121 

BEDET, 10, n 
Bent, James T., 123 
Bentley, Richard, 122 
Briggate, 13, 31 ft., 43 ff., 48, 

51, 59, 6iff., 71, 83, 85, 


CANAL, The Leeds-Liverpool, 

70, 82 

Charles I., 42 ff., 49 
Crofts, Ernest, 124 

de Lacy, Henry, 20 ff. 
Dixon, Mrs., 72 
Domesday Survey, 13, 14, 15, 
29, 32, 117 

FARNLEY, 13, So, 84 
Fielders, John, 93, 94 
Fountains Abbey, 19 if., 59 

GLADSTONE, The Rt. Hon. 
. >W. E., 91, 92 

Gott, The family of, 77, 78, 
ioo, 105, 119 

/ * 

HARRISON, JOHN, 44, 46, 48 ff., 


Hastings, Lady Elizabeth, 73 
Hey, William, 72 

Holbeck, 13, 78, 79, 115 
Hook, Dr. William F., 98, 

99 fi., 118, 119 
Howard, John, 72, 73, 96 
Hutton, Richard Hole, 121 

INFIRMARY, The Leeds, 72, 
115, 119, 120 


KIRKGATE, 31, 32, 43, 53, 54, 


Kirkstall, 13, 16, 19 if., 40, 
41, 44, 56, 59, 80, 84, 118 

Leeds Mercury, The, 74, 82, 

93, 113, 114 
Library, The Leeds, 75 
"Loidis and Elmete," Whit- 

aker's, 51, 68 


89 fi. 

May, Philip W., 124 
Metcalf , John, 69 
MiU Hill, 50, 65, 71. 74, 83, 


Milner, Isaac, 120, 121 
Milner, Joseph, 12.0 
Moot Hall, 44, 48, 71 


Paulinus, Saint, 9 fi. 



Pontefract, 14, 15, 20, 25, 

29 ff. 55. 60 
Priestley, Joseph, 74, 75, 122, 


Proctor, Adelaide A., 121 
Proctor, Bryan W., 121 

ST. JOHN'S Church, 44, 45, 51, 

52, 102, 115 
St. Peter's Parish Church, 16, 

32, 40, 42, 43, 45, 94, 99 ff., 

108, 115 

Sadler, Michael T., 93, 94 
Smeaton, John, 123 

Stephenspn, George, 82 
Sykes, Richard, 72 

THORESBY, RALPH, 10, 26, 27, 
43, 48 ., 6x, 62, 64, 65, 
68, 71, 83, 99, n8 

UNIVERSITY, The Leeds, in ff. 

Wilberforce, William, 75, 93, 


Yorkshire Post, The, 75, 113, 



A series of popular but /scholarly histories of 
' English towns, designed primarily for the general 
reader, but suitable also for use in schools. With 
maps, plans and illustrations. 

Birmingham CANON J. H. B. MASTERMAN 

Bristol ... ... ... ... PROF.. G. H. LEONARD 

Cambridge A. GRAY 

Canterbury . ... Miss R. SPOONER 

Chester Miss M. TAYLOR 

Harrogate and Knaresborough . J. S. FLETCHER 



Leicester S. H. SKILLINGTON 

Newcastle PROF. F. J. C. HEARNSHAW 

Nottingham ... E. L. GUILFORD 


Peterborough ... ... K. E. & R. E. ROBERTS 

Pontefract J. S. FLETCHER 

St. Albans \y. p AGE 

Sheffield J. S. FLETCHER 

Shrewsbury DR. H. S. CRANAGE 

Wakefield THE REV. A. GOODALL 

Westminster THE REV. H. F. WESTLAKE 


York Miss M. SELLERS 

(Others in Contemplation)